The Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) lambasted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for coming out with a series of videos on its YouTube channel that used old footage to portray palm oil as an undesirable commodity which still destroys rainforests, threatens orangutans with extinction, and condemns indigenous peoples to poverty.
“Irresponsible news reporting by a broadcaster of the caliber of the BBC is not excusable.…. This is a matter of great concern to the CPOPC that a publicly owned broadcaster would reach so far down to create a sensationalized report against palm oil,” the organization said in a blog it posted on its official website.
The CPOPC said that the videos, that is said carried “sensationalized titles” could only be perceived as anti-palm oil and added that while their credibility were questioned, they could mislead viewers into seeing them as educational reports.
It took the example of one of the videos, on Indonesian palm oil company Korindo, which it said had been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. The video claimed that Korindo was engaged in “intentional fires to burn forest,” to make way for palm oil plantations, and contained footage of the alleged “burning forests.”
Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) has responded to the controversial video by saying the clips contributed by Greenpeace were from 2013. “The BBC must have realized that they were trying to make a new story out of old news.” CPOPC said.
Tt further added that some viewers had even opined that the footage of “burning forests” actually showed the burning of waste and no of clearing forests. “Further attempts to make their case of ‘intentional fires to burn forests’ used a scale which started at 2012 and ended in 2016. Incidents from 2016 can hardly count as news when there has been no evidence of fires being used to clear forests by Korindo.”
Responding ot the allegations by the BBC, Korindo issued a press release which raised some troubling questions about the credibility of the BBC report. They included the use of an indigenous Papuan Petrus Kinggo who spoke at length about his regrets in helping the company gain the trust of local clans.
Korindo confirmed in its press release that compensations were paid to the clans for the use of their land and it also provided a map showing that the lands claimed by Petrus Kinggo were in fact not developed or burnt as the BBC report would suggest
The Papuan provinces of Indonesia are forest rich but still mired in poverty like many other parts of Indonesia. Papua province in particular, has committed to a green development that will see enormous swathes of its forests preserved for the preservation of indigenous livelihoods as Papuans also strive for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, including through oil palm industry.