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[Letter to the Editor] Facts on palm oil, please, not falsehoods

I write in response to the opinion written by Justin Fendos, “Palm oil catastrophe.”

At a time when there is an urgent need to find sustainable sources for food and energy, it is important that consumers, including those in Korea, make their choices based on facts so that they are not misled by false information.

The opinion written by Fendos contains much false information that needs to be corrected for your readers. He claims, for example, that “it is estimated 26 million hectares of rainforest have been cleared in Indonesia alone.” This is nonsense that could have been clarified if he did some research on the topic.

Indonesia presently has 12 million hectares under palm oil cultivation but this may go up to 13 million hectares* by 2020. That is a big difference from the Fendos claim of 26 million hectares.

It is important for Korean consumers to know exactly what the impact of their consumption is. Fendos tried to drive consumer guilt by quoting orangutans and the seasonal haze in Indonesia. This is a popular tactic used to attract “clicks” or public response to his opinion. It is a despicable tactic that has been challenged by scientists and experts who wrote about the “rhetorics”** on palm oil. With 50 years of experience in tropical forest conservation between professors Erik Meijaard and Douglas Sheil, I would shop according to their opinion.

Fendos is also unaware of this, but Malaysia has been on a mission to ensure the sustainability of its palm oil, a lot of which is not grown in the “slash and burn of peatland forests” as he alleged. The Korean administration’s commitment to increase imports of Malaysian palm oil should be lauded, as this is an opportunity for Korean consumers to support conservation in Malaysia.


(Relevant links)
- https://www.nepcon.org/sourcinghub/palm-oil/palm-oil-indonesia-kalimantan
- https://www.nmbu.no/en/faculty/mina/news/node/37523


From, Robert Hii
Toronto, Ontario
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