Palm oil, traders, the RSPO and Brazil

Following up from my earlier post about palm oil certificate trading, quite a few readers expressed an interest in the comments I received.

On a contentious issue such as this, as usual the comments were all made privately, via email, phone or conversation.

In the earlier post, I asked: “Is certificate trading at odds with traceability?”.

I mentioned that some contacts of mine have told me that the commodities firms are not keen on traceability since it might cut them out of the palm oil loop. If companies deal directly with farmers or local agricultural firms, there’s less of a role for commodities traders.

The responses I got, about half a dozen, all seemed to indicate this was correct. No-one dissented. That doesn’t make it true, of course, but its an interesting indicator of the views of some NGOs, consultants and big companies, all of which responded to me.

This afternoon I am interviewing the head of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Darrell Webber, who is a former sustainability consultant and WWF employee.

I plan on asking him about how the RSPO will be toughening up on members, and his views on the traceability issues, amongst other questions. If readers have suggestions, let me know and I’ll try and put as many questions as possible to him in the hour we have to meet,

Lastly, here’s a fascinating article about palm oil development in Brazil that offers hope it could be force for good. Written by excellent activist writer Rhett Butler (he of Mongabay fame), it’s well worth a peruse if you are palm-oil minded.

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