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Palm Oil Label at Centre of Greenwashing Storm

Posted 26 November 2007 by Jacob Malthouse to Opinion.

The Palm Oil Roundtable has launched an ecolabel for palm oil. It’s industry led, voluntary, and Friends of the Earth is thinking about withdrawing support for it. The website is flashy, but the bottom line is it sounds like just the thing consumers and the planet don’t need.

Palm oil has long been a controversial product. On the one hand nations like Malaysia and Indonesia are working hard to develop, on the other hand they possess incredible natural resources and biodiversity. The booming palm oil industry is smack in the middle of that train wreck of perspectives.

We’re not against an eco-label for palm oil. Far from it, the more controversial the product, the more value a label can bring. Forestry is a classic example. The FSC did a tremendous job developing a legitimate source for green timber.

The problem is not standards, it’s how those standards are developed, monitored, and enforced.