You might not believe it, but apparently there is a point beyond which even the palm oil industry isn’t willing to stretch the truth. And Alan Oxley just blew right past it.
Last November, Alan Oxley was called out by a dozen scientists from leading academic and research institutions around the world for promoting industrial logging and oil palm plantations at the expense of the truth. According to those scientists’ analysis, Mr. Oxley lacks credibility and treads “a thin line between reality and a significant distortion of facts.”
This month, he has entire countries banning his rhetoric.
Alan Oxley makes more money than you and your mama combined under the guise of a “non-profit organization” called the World Growth Institute, which supports palm oil industry groups like the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and its new European lobby arm, the European Palm Oil Council (EPOC), in their mission to paint a bogus picture of reality in which palm oil plantations are somehow magically creating habitat for the species gravely endangered by their presence. Including unicorns.
In a disturbing ad that almost made me barf, MPOC claims that palm oil “helps our planet to breathe, and gives home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna.” Clearly, the Malaysia Palm Oil Council does not use an inkling of science. According to a recent analysis of leading scientists, there are 85% less species in oil palm plantations than primary forest (the only exception: rats). Another recent study shows that the critically endangered orangutans of North Sumatra cannot survive in oil palm plantations at all. So what type of “science,” you may be wondering, does Alan Oxley use? I think the answer is: none.
A few weeks ago, we found out that not only scientists are speaking out against the dangers of letting one very privileged, habitually lying dude frame public opinion on palm oil — an issue that only impacts him because he wants to spread the scientific truth gets paid to lie and greenwash palm oil’s horrendous impact on the planet. This time, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a TV advertisements created by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (with help from its biggest cheerleader, Alan Oxley) for its misleading claims.
This advertisement was even attacked by a senior executive of a palm oil company who said, “some of the statements are so blatantly untrue that it undermines our credibility… environmental groups are going to focus on the obvious fallacies and use them against us.”
So, let’s get set the facts straight: Alan Oxley, chairman of the World Growth Institute, has longstanding connections with some of the largest, dirtiest palm oil companies in the world — including Sinar Mas. He has been accused by world renowned scientists of propagating “significant distortions, misrepresentations, or misinterpretations of fact… designed to defend the credibility of corporations… directly or indirectly supporting them financially.” Even palm oil company executives think he is too over the top to be taken seriously. And we should trust his absurd notion that palm oil will save us all from climate change? Um, how about no.
It seems like the work of forest communities and human rights and environmental organizations to educate the public about the devastating impacts of the palm oil industry on tropical rainforests, forest peoples, endangered species, and the climate is working. If it wasn’t, the multi-billion dollar palm oil industry wouldn’t need to hire people like Alan Oxley and task them with using an old and tired spin show to distort the truth through advertisements like the ones just banned in the UK. Win!