Accusations without evidence
December, 2015 in Issue 4 - 2015
Marc Tarabella, a Belgian Member of the European Parliament, has a long and undignified record of demonising palm oil.
In 2013, he had made statements that effectively accused palm oil production of being environmentally destructive, harmful to human health and violating workers’ rights – despite producing no evidence and, clearly, not being in possession of the facts. In June this year he went on the attack again, accusing the industry of exporting so-called ‘illegal’ products – including palm oil – to Europe.
Tarabella bases this accusation almost entirely a report by FERN, a European Green NGO. The report was discredited earlier this year in detail. A rebuttal by FERN did not even attempt to address the substantive points of the critique; it simply re-stated the original propositions, with no attempt to engage in a debate. Making wild accusations and then ducking a debate is classic FERN playbook. It’s a shame that MEP Tarabella is siding with the wild accusations, and not the facts.
Tarabella made a statement and asked a question to the European Commission (EC) and appeared to be collaborating with FERN: “Can the [EC] confirm or deny the accusation that some products imported into the EU do indeed result from illegal deforestation?”
One thing that FERN attempts to do in its report is to link the high number of land claims in Malaysian courts to ‘illegality’ of the products being exported. Clearly, the fact that there is an open, transparent and effective legal system is something to be praised – rather than subjected to attacks. The role of the courts is to adjudicate.
Does Tarabella really think that Belgium has no land disputes currently under legal review? So, perhaps using his logic, should the EU ban all Belgian products as well?
As The Oil Palm has pointed out, FERN’s report failed to mention that some plaintiff claims around land use in Malaysia were also related to the main airport. Once again, no evidence was produced to justify the attack on Malaysia’s oil palm farmers.