Malaysian Small Farmers Wish to Remind Tesco about their Corporate Social Responsibility Requirements in Malaysia

In the wake of Iceland Foods’ dark colonial actions to boycott Palm Oil and hurt Malaysia’s Small Farmers, a new campaign has emerged on Change.org that seeks to pressure Tesco, a global supermarket giant, to ban Palm Oil from their own-brand products. The petition’s initiator, “15 year old Oscar” – who runs an online cause “Justice 4 Earth” is getting close to his goal of collecting the 200,000 signatures.

In the face of this baseless petition (even NGOs are discrediting it), here’s what Tesco’s CEO Dave Lewis should remember:

  1. Tesco is the number one retailer in South East Asia, mainly present in Thailand and Malaysia, two of the top three Palm Oil producing countries;
  2. There are more than 50 Tesco hypermarkets in Malaysia;
  3. Tesco employs more than 10,000 in Malaysia; and
  4. Tesco openly states that it is committed to playing an “active role in communities across Malaysia”.

These are simple but salient facts about Tesco in Malaysia.

In ceding to any demands to boycott Palm Oil or hoisting unjust Western-oriented policy measurers on Malaysia’s small farmers, Tesco would be signaling it is abandoning Malaysia, and its CSR commitments to the country.

The facts about Malaysian Palm Oil:

  • Withdrawing from using Palm Oil would lead to sentencing more than 650,000 Malaysian small farmers and their families, who are reliant on Palm Oil, to a life of poverty.
  • EU research proves that Palm Oil is not a major factor in global deforestation. In fact, livestock (beef) accounts for 10 times more deforestation than Palm Oil. Soy accounts for more than double.
  • Palm Oil is the world’s most efficient oilseed crop. When compared to other vegetable oils, Palm Oil consumes considerably less energy in production, using less land and generating more oil per hectare than other vegetable oils.
  • Rapeseed uses five times the amount of pesticides compared to Palm Oil; sunflower uses 4 times more land to produce the same amount of oil.
  • Malaysia is a recognized world-leader in Palm Oil sustainability, and forest conservation more widely. The Malaysian Government has committed to protecting at least 50% of land as forest area. Malaysia maintains 54.9% of its land area under forest cover, which exceeds Malaysia’s commitment of 50% at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. This commitment has been recognized by the United Nations.
  • Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification will be made mandatory by December 2019. MSPO addresses the environmental, social and economic aspects of Palm Oil production, cultivation and processing methods, protecting forests and wildlife, safeguarding workers’ welfare and safety and providing a living wage.