Monday, August 15, 2016

Sustainable Palm Oil. Consciences safe and Rainforest under Fire

Everyday the world of information and consumers show us how words are increasingly turn in the unclear contours of propaganda. The consumer, the citizen does not have to be informed, but reassured, must have a peace of mind while phrases totally emptied of their semantic value turn into bullets to anesthetize the masses. They seek the consent of those who buy, often through the denial of noxious withholding  to health: "no preservatives", "no coloring", "no additives", there is the trend of the biological, here is the accurate labels with natural words, "organic," there was the period of  products from overseas, immediately the word "Italian" and if not just check the "made in Italy" from "Italian milk", the consumer starts to rumble for palm oil, no problem , here is the palm oil from "sustainable" farming. But they do not tell us what lies within the ingredients. And what it means? Few ask themselves, a few look beyond the label, the term "sustainability" plays ecologically acceptable, green light, it is the trend of the moment, zero km and sustainable, thumbs up to our environmental consciousness. The confectionery and food market , but also cosmetics has been quietly colonized by palm oil, it is virtually everywhere. The "RSPO" acronym corresponds to the "Roundtable on Sustanable Palm Oil", an agricultural organization, founded in 2004, which includes the vast majority of the sectors of 'palm oil producers, intermediaries, distributors, retailers, banks and industries. All together to promote and develop the sustainable use of this ingredient present in almost all the houses in the Western countries: Knorr, Kraft, Mulino Bianco, Mars, Buitoni, L'Oreal, Ferrero, Garnier, AXE, Oreo cookies, Biotherm and many many more. Often the term is misleading, is confused with "vegetable fats or oils", for example, is almost impossible to find a box of cookies without this ingredient. The citizen has the duty to keep alive their "critical thinking," without accepting the paradigms imposed by any government or group of power. Delegate their lives to third parties, it makes the individual more and more dependent on decision-makers, a liability that gradually but steadily will change the fight into something optional, whereas the latter should represent one of the cornerstones of human existence. The RSPO is therefore a guarantee for purchases that actually protect the forests of Southeast Asia? The answer seems rather controversial. There are many criticisms of this organization by the "Friends of Earth": "The RSPO certification is not enough, because it does not check whether toxic pesticides are used as Paraquat and is not yet able to ensure full traceability of the supply chain. The RSPO it is not a still credible certification ". But also from "Greenpeace" which recently published a report which highlights how the fires that recently have destroyed the peat forests of Borneo have been caused by companies producing so-called sustainable "palm oil." The Culprit plantations belongs to the Indonesian IOI Group companies, Bumitama Agri Ltd and Alas Kusuma group. Companies that are part of important institutions of sustainability certification, including the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). For the WWF instead the RSPO is an excellent tool to open a dialogue among industry, environmental groups and consumers. Although, as admits WWF there is still much to do to achieve optimum traceability. One study went even more depths by the "Environmental Investigation Agency" Group (a British NGO with over 30 years of experience) asked who should control the controllers, in other words the whole team of inspectors that issue certificates and authorizations for a sustainable use of rain forests affected from crops. The main purpose of the RSPO are to verify the standards for the transparency of legislative norms of each country involved, respect for workers, the prohibition of destroying any part of "primary forest" or high conservation value, as well as the protection of the values ​​and the rights of local communities. Infact the Palm Oil Companies can not buy parts of the forest for cultivation without the prior consent of indigenous communities. In the Standard, however, not prohibiting high peat content areas, a high pollution potential, if, as often happens these types of soils are on fire. According to the further report, these "controllers" are the protagonists of repeated defaults: they fail to protect the indigenous rights, do not report any abuse of workers, and show considerable deficiencies in the control of environmental standards themselves. There is a supervisory committee to evaluate all breaches about regulations, permits and certifications. Unfortunately, many palm oil Companies  subjected to these criticisms are the same who hold active roles in committee, a classic conflict of interests. Through interviews with some of the indigenous communities in Indonesia it was discovered the strong pressure exerted by the palm oil Corporations to get areas of forest to be wipe out. And what about the permission granted to the Companies Henrison PT Inti Persada and PT Pusaka Agro Lestari for an area of ​​about 70,000 hectares in almost the totality of the rainforest, in the provncia area in Papua New Guinea, which is considered very high environmental interest area for biodiversity. The two companies are subsidiary of the energy giant Noble Group, which saw its prices market  fall by 65% ​​only in 2015. A domino effect also caused by the largest Sovereign Retirement Fund of the world, the Norwegian, who has disinvested in recent years by almost all form of palm oil industry, judging potentially dangerous for the environment. Just a few months ago a further grant of rain forest has sparked protests from the EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency). The affected area which is the size of Manhattan island, is home to many orangutans and leopards, already threatened in other areas. The company which has received the green light for its palm oil crops as "sustainable" is called "PT Sawit Sumbermas Sarana" and features an "excellent" record of crimes against the environment, reaching, in 2000, to be named among the worst 18 companies for illegal logging in the country. There are no certificate and if there are some have not been verified by the authorities. In Borneo, to quote an area with very high environmental interest, with unique biodiversity the world, more than 10% of the land has already been converted for agricultural use for palm oil. Yet despite the criticism, the investigations of the various environmental organizations, these industries giants continue to ride the wave of the market: they are unstoppable super speedy trains, driven by a society that for years, unaware of everything, powered fuel profits and income at exponential zeros. L "IOI Group" is a multinational Company that groups together several subsidiaries, After an early career in the gas sector, in 2015 55% of revenues come from oil palm with 152,000 hectares of plantations in Malaysia and 83,000 in Indonesia. The fact dates back a few months ago when the criticized RSPO decides, surprisingly, to suspend the right "IOI Group" and prohibit the sale of its palm oil as "sustainable", too many violations of local laws, too many unauthorized permits . The Malaysian multinational has decided to sue the RSPO, for damages, since many buyers including Nestle, Mars and Ferrero have suspended the supply the purchasing of oil from the "IOI". 22 environmental non-profit associations are pushing more buyers to cancel their contracts. Moreover there are increasingly frequent, investigations into abuses to workers in IOI plantations. Unfortunately just few days ago RSPO reinstated the certificate for IOI, sends a message that it's fine to continue trashing forests in pursuit of profits. Yet even though IOI still cannot demonstrate it can produce palm oil in a responsible manner and has not shown how it will restore the forests and peat it has damaged, the RSPO last week announced it was lifting the suspension. After all, I am an eyewitness, here in Singapore, of a phenomenon highly polluting and damaging to human health: the Haze, this dense fog with smells of burnt wood, is nothing but the smoke from Indonesian forests torched for the various palm oil crops. We are talking about crimes against humanity, so at least is reported in an article of "The Guardian", which brings terrible numbers: at least 500,000 cases of lung infections in the only Indonesia. In Sumatra the index of pollutants (PSI) provides that each parameter above 300 is considered hazardous to your health, here are data around 2000 !!! The promises by the Indonesia policy will melt like snow in the sun, a sun made of corruption, poor controls and a high demand of world market that continues get palm oil for their food and cosmetics. A system as  sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which takes on the contours of a stopgap measure, something to put consumers at peace with its green soul, while thousands of kilometers away is staged the same drama where human rights, child labor, pollution, corruption and the devastation of massive area of the planet are now commonplace. Once again, the citizen must take back their rights / duty decision on what  buy. To judge the severity of a problem based on its distance with our everyday life has shown how dangerous it can be. You have to get involved, questioning and admit that the particular product bought for years is harmful to the health of the planet and then to ours. We still have time to change, one, ten, hundred and thousands of people who pass this mental edge can become the legion of a global change. There will come a day when those problems that we consider far and inconsistent knocking at our door, or on the future generation doorstep, and maybe it will be too late to understand .... .... maremmacinghialaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa


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