Published March 8th, 2010
Palm oil tested on sustainability
By Muhammad Cohen
NUSA DUA, Bali – Palm oil plantations play a major role in the growing problems of deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia and tropical woodlands around the world. Last week’s gathering of the International Conference on Oil Palm and Environment (ICOPE) is one move toward making the industry part of the solution.
Whether the palm oil industry can, in fact, be part of the solution to deforestation is a proposition that divides palm oil producers, manufacturers, retailers, and, naturally, environmental groups. At one extreme, sustainable palm oil production is considered an oxymoron. The opposite fringe sees critics of palm oil as dupes of a developed-world plot against poor farmers, built on myths of species extinction and climate change, funded by palm’s rival oil and fat producers.