Press Release: New Report Details Harm to Small Farmers of WWF Palm Oil Campaign

 Fresh concerns raised over WWF push for high cost sustainability standards – A campaign by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) to impose onerous and costly sustainability palm oil standards on small farmers in South East Asia will not materially improve the environment and only reduce their commercial viability, according to pro-development NGO, World Growth.

In a new report, World Growth has detailed how the cost of adopting the standards in the WWF sustainability system (known as RSPO – Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) would push small holders out of global markets.  

This would be another consequence of the global campaign by WWF to pressure processors and retailers to capture the global supply chain in palm oil despite national laws in Southeast Asia already requiring producers to be sustainable.

One effect of the campaign was recently shown in France. National retail chains supported efforts to tax palm oil. The ensuing increase in the cost of Nutella, which uses palm oil, would have given market advantage to its own competing, non-palm oil, home brand products.

World Growth Chairman, Ambassador Alan Oxley, released the following statement:

“It was only in June that the United Nations reconfirmed its consensus on sustainable development adopted 20 years ago, that action to ensure sustainability should go hand in hand with action to raise living standards.  This new report reveals that WWF is ignoring that consensus, most recently by proposing that small farmers who produce 40 percent of global palm oil adopt its costly standards. This would make them uncompetitive in global markets.”

“WWF’s strategy is to control markets and supply chains by getting large processors and retailers to dictate that producers implement WWF standards which are set out by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil which WWF set up.”

“This will not noticeably improve sustainability. It is already a legal requirement in the world’s biggest palm oil nations, in Southeast Asia, that producers meet rigorous sustainability standards.”

“Smallholders are defined in the RSPO as farmers with holdings of less than 50 hectares. In reality many have much less. These are people who have only just escaped subsistence farming and form a large proportion of rural populations in Southeast Asia.”

“The RSPO is now offering to pay them to adopt its standard, but the cost of RSPO certification will still make smallholders uncompetitive.”

“Producer countries such as Malaysia have actively fostered oil palm production to raise living standards of smallholders. This was commended by the World Bank for reducing poverty.”

“The WWF plan would devastate small farmers but benefit large food retailers, for example Casino and System U in France keen to displace product using palm oil with home brand products not using palm oil.  A tax was proposed on palm oil in France and producers in Africa and Asia successfully rallied against it.”

“The FAO has also pointed out the WWF scheme could be used to block access by smallholders to global markets.”

“WWF is also pushing its sustainability agenda in developing markets with poor consumer such as India. The effect would be to raise the costs of staple foods for the poor.”

“WWF should  drop its demand small farmers be RSPO-certified, and acknowledge simpler certification systems exist, such as the Malaysian government backed GAP scheme, that can enable small-scale farmers to improve production, enhance sustainability and ensure that path to prosperity is fulfilled.”

Read the new World Growth report here

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