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Give peace a chance

September 20, 2012

FMT LETTER: From Sean Whyte, via e-mail

Regrettably, rarely a day goes by without mention in the news of orangutans being killed, injured or baby orangutans being orphaned. It is common knowledge throughout the world that the cause of almost all of this suffering and brutal killing is the palm oil industry.

Let me repeat now what I have said on record many times before: I am not opposed to palm oil. What I and millions of others are in opposition to is the mindless, unnecessary and totally illegal killing and maiming of orangutans and other endangered species. Who isn’t?

The palm oil industry has thoroughly disgraced itself by its brazen destruction of magnificent rain forests and slaughter of literally millions of animals. Anyone who has visited Kalimantan or Sumatra will know its resemblance in places to a war zone with vast areas of once pristine rain forest now obliterated with not so much as an insect left.

Is it too much to ask the palm oil industry to agree at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) meetings in Singapore next month to endorse and implement immediately a ‘No Kill Zero Tolerance’ policy? Surely not!

What possible reason could anyone have for objecting to the law being respected and upheld in Malaysia and Indonesia, for this is what we are asking, nothing more, nothing less.

Consumers, supermarket buyers, politicians and others the world over all know palm oil has come at an enormous cost to irreplaceable majestic rain forests and endangered species. I cannot think of any other industry in the world which has caused so much irrevocable environmental damage.

We call on those good people in the palm oil industry and I’m quite sure there are many of you, to not look back, but to look forward to change for the better. Change is nothing to be afraid of, embrace it and feel the benefits quickly accrue. Nothing we are asking will harm you or your industry, will it?

While there is still time, admittedly very little of it left, will you please give the remaining orangutans and their forest homes a chance to survive? If you won’t do it for the animals, will you do it for future generations so they may enjoy and appreciate this species and its wondrous habitat?

Collectively, the palm oil industry has made vast fortunes from rainforests. We are not even asking you to give some money back. All we ask is that you give this species a chance, at this – the 11th hour – to survive, and this we feel is not a lot to ask, is it?

A ‘No Kill Zero Tolerance’ policy will not harm the palm oil industry and it will not harm the forest or animals. It will be good for business and it’s a win-win policy for all concerned. I leave you with these words of Mahatma Gandhi: “The future depends on what we do in the present.”

The writer is CEO of Nature Alert


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