French Minister’s ‘thousand apologies’ for Nutella gaffe

To millions, Nutella is a delicious hazelnut and chocolate-flavoured spread, but to France’s Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Minister, it’s a driver of global warming and environmental destruction.

“We have to replant a lot of trees because there is massive deforestation that also leads to global warming. We should stop eating Nutella, for example, because it’s made with palm oil,” Segolene Royal said on French television last week.

“Oil palms have replaced trees, and therefore caused considerable damage to the environment,” she said, adding that Nutella should use “other ingredients”.

Royal’s comments unleashed a media firestorm. But in just days, her attempts to label Nutella as environmentally unfriendly had chalked up an epic fail.

Ferrero, the Italian company that makes Nutella, quickly issued a statement claiming its palm oil is “100% certified as sustainable according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil”.

“Ferrero sources approximately 170,000 tonnes of palm oil out of a worldwide production of 60 million tonnes, meaning that Ferrero’s impact on the palm oil supply chain represents less than 0.3%,” the company said in its statement.

“The company has made efforts to produce palm oil sustainably. For instance, it launched a Palm Oil Charter in 2013 in order to address the causes of deforestation. The charter committed the company to sourcing palm oil responsibly, while protecting animals, the environment and the rights of workers.”

Even environmentalists would not back Royal’s calls to stop eating Nutella. Activists said boycotts are not the answer to stopping palm oil production and that Nutella is one of the more ecologically responsible companies on this issue.

“… simply boycotting products containing palm oil – or any other commodity linked to deforestation – will not stop the destruction,” Greenpeace International said in a statement.

“And as far as consumer companies go, Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, is actually one of the more progressive consumer-facing companies when it comes to palm oil sourcing. Responding to the demands of their customers, Ferrero was one of the first companies to announce a policy to end the use of deforestation palm oil.”

Italian politicians reacted by publicly showing support for Nutella. The New York Post reported that “Agnese Renzi, the wife of Italy’s prime minister, was shown by Italian media ordering a pancake filled with the spread for her daughter, Ester”.

“Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti tweeted he would eat bread and Nutella for dinner,” it also reported. Royal had no evidence to back her claim. She issued an apology just two days after her comments.

“A thousand apologies for the row over Nutella,” she tweeted. “Okay to showcase progress.”

Source: The Daily Caller, June 22, 2015

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Joint-venture company to bottle palm oil for Vietnam 

Vietnamese food firm Kinh Do, along with Indo-Trans Logistics Corporation (ITL) and Malaysia’s Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint-venture company to bottle palm oil for the Vietnamese market.

Kinh Do will contribute 45% to capital, while ITL and the Malaysian investor will collectively own 55%. The company is expected to be launched within the next six months.

With its experience of operating in the palm oil refining industry, FGV – the world’s largest producer of crude palm oil – will assist the new company by guaranteeing high quality products, Kinh Do said in a statement.

ITL will provide integrated solutions for local logistics, and maritime and aviation transport management.

“Based on combining the strengths of three corporations, the joint-venture company will become a strong, successful bottled oil firm in the market,” said Tran Le Nguyen, chief executive of Kinh Do.

The new company will not build a new plant during its inception. Instead, it will capitalise on available infrastructure to implement production with raw materials imported from Malaysia by FGV and ITL.

Kinh Do, headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, entered the cooking oil business last year after acquiring some 24% of the Vietnam Vegetable Oil Industry Corporation (Vocarimex) during its initial public offer in July.

It has plans to consolidate its presence in Vocarimex by investing another VND530 billion (US$24.5 million) in the newly equitised state firm, increasing the holding to 51%.

Beyond the oil segment, Kinh Do has also formed a US$30 million instant food joint venture with Taiwan-invested Saigon Ve Wong Co Ltd, in which it owns a 49% stake.

Source: Dealstreet Asia, June 22, 2015

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US unlikely to ditch the Renewable Fuel Standard

Legislation has been introduced in the US Congress to eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), but it has no chance at enactment. However, more notable is the concession in Washington by some policy supporters of biofuels that the RFS is a flawed approach.

Conventional biofuel has hit a blend wall at the same time that advanced biofuel is constrained by a technology wall. The alternative suggestion is a large enough production tax credit for advanced biofuel and a tax on gasoline.

One expert warns that the public is less motivated on biofuels due to climate change than the fear of dependence on foreign oil.

Source: Ag Perspectives, June 17, 2015

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Indonesia to get US$5mil for climate-change work

US Agency for International Development mission director Andrew Sisson has signed an agreement to award US$5 million to the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF). This will be used to fund Indonesian NGOs’ climate change programmes.

“From changing weather patterns that affect food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of coastal flooding, Indonesia faces a wide range of climate change-related threats,” Sisson said as he signed the agreement with National Development Planning Deputy Minister Endah Murniningtyas, who is also chairs the ICCTF Board of Trustees.

“The US is proud to support the ICCTF and continue our history of partnering with the Indonesian government to tackle important global challenges,” said Sisson.

He said climate change is a shared global priority that requires the action of governments, private companies, NGOs and citizens.

“It’s impressive that this fund involves all these stakeholders in Indonesia,” Sisson said.

ICCTF pools and coordinates funds from various sources to support and finance climate change programmes and policies. It is one of only two nationally managed trust funds in the world dedicated to fighting climate change, making it a model for many middle-income and developing countries.

“This contribution shows that international partners like the US are important in Indonesia’s efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy and adapt to climate change,” said Murniningtyas.

Apart from being a greenhouse gas emitter, Indonesia is among the countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The Asian Development Bank estimates that climate change could cause economic losses of between 2% and 7% of annual gross domestic product by the end of the century.

Source: The Jakarta Post, June 22, 2015

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Sabah government receives WWF leadership award 

WWF International has presented its prestigious ‘Leaders for a Living Planet’ award to the Sabah government in recognition of its efforts to create Malaysia’s largest marine park by the end of the year. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman accepted the award.

The proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) represents almost 1 million ha of marine protected area off the north coast of Sabah. The park will encompass 50 islands and protect one of the world’s most biodiverse marine ecosystems.

WWF has launched a major global effort to emphasise the value of coastal marine resources to hundreds of millions of people around the world and to strengthen marine conservation. As part of this initiative, WWF pledged full support to Sabah for the designation of the park and to help secure the funding required to ensure its effective management once created.

“The gazettement of the TMP is a globally significant action that will boost the conservation and biodiversity of this uniquely rich natural environment. It will also do much to ensure the sustainable management of the significant marine resources in the area, for the long-term benefit of the more than 80,000 people living on the coast and islands in the proposed park,” said Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF International.

Fishing is a key economic driver of the northern coastal area of Sabah, with approximately 100 tonnes of fish – valued at US$200,000 – caught each day.

The planned park holds four species of sea turtles, 550 fish species, 252 hard coral species, and 243 invertebrate species with new species being discovered continuously. Migratory marine mammals such as dolphins and whales also feed in the area.

“Effective management of the TMP will help ensure the viability of the area’s fisheries resources – and high quality ecotourism can provide hugely increased value, based on this natural treasure. The gazettement of this park should act as a model and an inspiration for marine conservation worldwide,” said Lambertini.

He also paid tribute to Dato’ Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin, Chairman of Sabah Parks, for the outstanding contribution his organisation has made as lead agency in the long journey toward gazettement of the TMP.

Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia, said the intention to gazette the TMP has national, regional and global significance, as it is a significant marine area in the Coral Triangle – an area gravely threatened by overfishing and pollution.

WWF-Malaysia has been supporting the gazettement process and working with state government agencies and partners since 2003 through implementation of a number of strategies. These include community consultations, demonstrating benefits of marine protected areas, alternative livelihood programmes, and education and public awareness. Source:, April 29, 2015

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European Cardiology Society seeks EU ban on trans fats

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked the GRAS (‘generally recognised as safe’) status of partially hydrogenated oils in June, in an effort to rid the US food supply of artificial trans fats.

Made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils, partial hydrogenation makes liquid oils solid at room temperature, and improves their shelf life and stability in processing. However, it also creates trans fats, which have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

The European Cardiology Society (ECS), which represents more than 85,000 specialists, said it welcomes the FDA’s decision and called on European policy makers “to urgently bring forward EU-wide regulation to address this important health issue”.

Health concerns about trans fats have led to voluntary reductions among food manufacturers in western Europe, virtually eliminating artificial trans fats. However, high levels are still common in products available in many eastern European countries, as well as in ethnic shops in western European countries.

“Based on the effects on cardiovascular health of [trans fats] intake; the positive experiences from different interventions to limit [trans fats] intake and the accumulated knowledge on differential consumption of [trans fats] across Europe, the ECS believes that a regulatory intervention is necessary to ensure that all EU citizens can effectively reduce their [trans fats] intake,” a statement said.

The FDA has given manufacturers three years to phase out trans fats in processed foods, a move the ECS says would prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year in the US and reduce cardiovascular disease.

According to its figures, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Europe, responsible for 40% of deaths in the EU. To date, only three member-states – Austria, Denmark and Hungary – have adopted legislation to restrict industrially produced trans fats in the food chain.

There have been repeated recommendations for a European trans fats ban since 2008, when the European Parliament published a study urging a ban on artificial trans fats in the EU.

In 2009, the World Health Organisation had concluded that available information was sufficient to recommend virtually eliminating industrially produced trans fats from food supply. Last year, it called for a complete ban throughout Europe as part of the European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015-2020 on diet and health.

The European Commission had been expected to publish a report on trans fats and their effects on health last December.

Source: Food Navigator, July 9, 2015

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