German Ambassador’s Clever Wordplay Cannot Hide the Truth About EU Palm Oil Ban

As Malaysian Minister of Primary Industries Ms Teresa Kok was engaging European leaders (including in Berlin) holding meetings with her counterparts, Ambassador of Germany to Malaysia Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff made some strange comments about the status of the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) Delegated Act, trying to distance Germany from any responsibility for the EU’s discriminatory plans to ban palm oil.

Let’s decode the comments made by the Ambassador.

  1. “Germany is not going to ban the palm oil trade from countries like Malaysia. However, other European countries have been talking about reducing and maybe stop using the natural resource”.

The German Ambassador is playing with words – not uncommon for a European diplomat. The EU Delegated Act effectively bans palm oil biofuels from Europe as of 2030 – and the phase-out of palm oil biofuels begins in 2024. It is a de facto ban: it will be the end of palm oil biofuels in Europe. EU Parliament officials have confirmed that this is a ban/phase out of palm oil.

Only one biofuel has been determined as “High Risk”. Palm oil. It is the only crop singled out, based on claims about deforestation despite EU’s own Research confirming that soybeans are worse than palm oil for deforestation. Yet soybeans were labelled “Low Risk” in the Delegated Act.

Germany was fully involved in this decision. In fact, Germany is probably the most powerful country in the EU decision-making process. So – yes, Germany is in fact party to the forthcoming ban of palm oil biofuels in Europe.

 

  1. “Malaysia should also reduce the dependency on palm oil and maybe should stop using it in the few years to come as many other European countries are following suit”

This statement from a high-level diplomat is quite something. Malaysian government officials do not make speeches arguing that Germany should rely less on its “dieselgate” polluting car industry.

Besides, the Ambassador’s comment is inaccurate. Palm oil has been an economic and social boon to Malaysia -it has been key to lifting millions of Malaysians out of poverty. The poverty rate has fallen from 45% in the early 1970s to less than 5% today. No other crop is as efficient, productive or profitable. Is the Ambassador suggesting that Malaysians should make themselves poorer, simply to comply with EU diplomats’ opinions?

 

  1. “We need the palm oil as it cheap, environmentally friendlyand sustainable”.

The Ambassador is not completely wrong in his statement. He is correct in regards to Malaysian palm oil’s track record in forest protection and sustainability.

Malaysia protects more than 50% of land as forest area, according to official forest data published by the United Nations. Malaysia’s commitment and conservation efforts were first made in 1992, at the Rio Earth Summit.

Furthermore, Malaysian palm oil cultivation has always prioritised sustainability and the implementation of best agricultural practices. Malaysia’s internationally recognised sustainability scheme, Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certifies all palm oil produced in Malaysia. MSPO guarantees a high-quality product, which is mandatory, tightly regulated and heavily monitored, with strict requirements for sustainability and best agricultural practices.

This shows that the EU is not settled when it comes to palm oil. They recognize its environmentally friendly and sustainable compared to other oilseed crops, yet, the EU is pushing discriminatory palm oil regulation to ban palm oil biofuels.

EU officials are playing on words, trying to fend off any unfair action taken against palm oil, in order to safeguard their interest in future trade agreements and to avoid palm oil producing countries’ retaliation and possible WTO challenge.

This is bound to happen, as the Malaysian and Indonesian Government have recently hinted towards – if EU leaders continue to only listen to anti-palm oil voices in the EU while discarding palm oil producing countries and their ASEAN allies.

Tide is Turning on Europe in South East Asia

Today, Malaysia’s Small Palm Oil Farmers launched a new digital ad video that totally rejects Europe’s discriminatory Delegated Act on the eve of France’s ‘Ambassador’ for Environment, Yann Wehrling’s visit to Malaysia.

The video highlights the unholy deal Europe made with President Trump – known as the ‘Juncker-Trump Soya for Cars/Steel Deal’ – that will erect a blockade against Malaysian Palm Oil. A European Union blockade that is unnecessary, unjust, violates WTO rules and without provocation by Malaysia or any palm oil producing country.

In recent days, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has signaled to EU leaders that Malaysia was now actively considering withdrawing from EU contracts such as the Rafale, and buying fighter jets elsewhere, in response to the EU ban. Indonesia also indicated it is considering imposing tariffs and quotas on EU spirits including French Cognac.

Malaysia’s Small Farmers urge that the Council of the EU and EU Member States Governments reject the EU’s Delegated Act..

 Excerpts from the ad:

  • “Malaysia and Europe have a history as friends, allies and trading partners.”
  • “Instead of strengthening this relationship, Europe is actively undermining it.”
  • “The European Commission is spreading dishonest claims about small Palm Oil farmers. We Malaysians consider this a direct attack on our national interest.”
  • “This situation is highly regrettable. Malaysia has not displayed any aggression towards Europe that would provoke such a direct threat to our country. The Malaysian Government urges Europe’s leaders to reject the Delegated Act and commit to a strong economic and trading relationship with ASEAN.”

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Faces of Palm Oil is a joint project of the National Association of Small Holders (NASH), the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), the Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA), the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) that seeks to advocate on behalf of Malaysian small farmers. To learn more, visit https://facesofpalmoil.org/

Pressure Mounts on EU Leaders to Reject the RED Delegated Act

Jet stream is moving Europe far away from South East Asia

On the eve of the largest defence and maritime exhibition show in the Asia Pacific region, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, signaled to Europe’s leaders, foreign policy officials, and the defence and security establishment, that as a result of the European Commission’s black campaign against Palm Oil, Malaysia is now actively considering purchasing new fighter jets from China rather than European arms companies.

This would be a significant blow to France’s Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon jets and could reverberate beyond to other defence-related companies doing business in Malaysia.

Indonesia’s Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita announced that Indonesia was preparing to take the European Union to the WTO over the imposition of the Delegated Act should the Council of the EU confirm it. And this week, Indonesian Trade Ministry representative, Oke Nurwan, has encouraged Indonesian companies to undertake litigation to combat the EU’s de facto ban on Palm Oil.

Sadly, the EU doesn’t get it. This week, the EU Ambassador to Indonesia Vincent Guérend was in full sales mode when he stated, “all vegetable oils are treated equally” under the Delegated Act. That’s fake news. Palm Oil has been singled out and labelled a ‘High Risk’ biofuel despite its impressive yields, lowest environmental footprint and lower land area usage whereas soya, a driver of deforestation, is considered sustainable by the EU.

ICYMI: Malaysian Government Indicates Norway’s Anti-Palm Oil Campaign ‘Certainly Not Something We Will Take Lightly’

Malaysia’s Minister of Primary Industries Ms Teresa Kok has condemned Norway’s ongoing campaign against Palm Oil and against the Norwegian Parliament’s erroneous decision to limit and phase out Palm Oil biofuels.

The Malaysian Government warned that the Norwegian Parliament’s decision to ban Palm Oil biofuels goes against fair and free trade, and will adversely affect Malaysia-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) trade negotiations, which includes Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking has said while EFTA negotiations are ongoing, Malaysia wishes to “understand Norway’s act of condemning Malaysia’s palm oil” and would welcome the opportunity to “meet them [Norwegian leaders] and explain the real situation how we sustainably operate the palm oil industry”.

This measure places a discriminatory and illegitimate label on Malaysian Palm Oil as ‘unsustainable’, despite Malaysia’s leading commitment to Good Agricultural Practices, sustainable development, and its forest conservation efforts to maintain over 50 per cent forest cover.

Minister Teresa Kok said:

“The stand taken by Norway against palm oil will adversely affect bilateral trade relations between Malaysia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) that includes Norway, and would be a major obstacle towards a successful conclusion of the Malaysia EFTA partnership talks.

 “This sort of action smacks of injustice and discrimination against products from developing countries like Malaysia. As a responsible producer of palm oil, we have already set in motion various initiatives to ensure sustainable practices are the norm rather than the exception, throughout the palm oil value chain.

 The Malaysia EFTA partnership agreement must provide fair market access to all of the countries involved, including fair treatment of sustainable palm oil which is produced in Malaysia. Without this fair market access, it will not be in the interest of Malaysia to pursue what will be a bad deal for the country and its people, particularly our 650,000 oil palm smallholders whose livelihood is at stake.”

Read the Minister’s full statement, here.

Read more on Minister Datuk Darell Leiking’s comments, here.

ICYMI: Malaysian Government Signals Trade Retaliation Following French Decision to Exclude Palm Oil Biofuels

Malaysia’s Minister of Primary Industries Ms. Teresa Kok has condemned the French National Assembly’s vote to exclude Palm Oil biofuels as “unwarranted and unjust”. The decision threatens the livelihoods of over 650,000 Malaysian small farmers who rely on palm oil to provide for their families.

The proposal by the French National Assembly is a betrayal of promises made by the French Government that they wouldn’t discriminate against Palm Oil.

Additionally, the ban on Palm Oil biofuels will threaten French exports to Asia and hurt diplomatic relations between France and Palm Oil-producing countries.

Minister of Primary Industries Ms. Teresa Kok stated:

“This is a most unwelcomed decision and goes against the very principles of free and fair trade. The vote by the Parliamentarians is alarming and deserves the strongest condemnation.

“Their action to ultimately exclude the usage and importation of palm oil as part of the approved renewable energy mix could consequentially affect our bilateral trade relations. Malaysia plans to protest strongly against this action and will also muster support from other key palm oil producers.

 I appeal to the French authorities to reconsider this anti-palm oil vote or be ready to face retaliatory actions on bilateral trade and other ongoing collaborations from all palm oil producers”.

Read the Minister’s statement in full, here.

Prince Charles Advisor Condemns Iceland’s Black Campaign Against Palm Oil

Sir Jonathon Porritt, the leading British environmentalist and advisor to Prince Charles, has said that Iceland’s Christmas palm oil advertisement is “deeply manipulative”, “makes no sense whatsoever” and “is actually counter-productive”.

Sir Jonathon, who has spent years working on practical steps to ensure sustainable palm oil, condemns Iceland’s advert as “ignoring reality” and says that celebrities who have expressed support for the campaign have been “duped”.

Sir Jonathon served for three years as Chairman of the UK’s Green Party; was Director of Friends of the Earth UK for six years; and for nine years chaired the UK Government’s Sustainable Development Commission. He is a renowned author and expert on environmental conservation and sustainability who currently serves as an environmental advisor to Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and a Visiting Professor at UCL. He is co-founder of the global sustainable development NGO, Forum for the Future.

Sir Jonathon’s op-ed in Malaysian newspaper The Star points out the factual errors in Iceland’s anti-palm oil campaign:

“James Cordon and Bill Bailey have allowed themselves to be duped by an unholy coalition of NGOs and naïve supermarkets.

It implies that the oil palm industry is the biggest cause of deforestation anywhere in the world. It is NOT. Not by a long chalk.”

It implies that tens of thousands of orang utan are still being killed in Indonesia and Malaysia every year because of oil palm development. They are NOT.

It implies that all palm oil, whatever it’s being used for and whoever produces it, is responsible for the death of thousands of orang utan. It is NOT.”

It implies that reasonable consumers will inevitably have to take their share of responsibility for the deaths of orang utan as a consequence for purchasing products which contain palm oil. They do NOT.”

Four big, fat, completely mendacious implications.”

Sir Jonathon reserves particular scorn for Iceland’s inexperienced and naïve CEO, Richard Walker:

“CEO Richard Walker doesn’t know how to tell the difference between certified and uncertified palm oil … it’s not difficult, Richard. […] Boycotting palm oil is purposeless.”

“[The Iceland video] was specifically made for ‘political’ reasons with no requirement on it whatsoever, to worry about being ‘fair, decent, honest and true’.”

Sir Jonathon rightfully points out the important steps taken by the palm oil industry towards becoming sustainable, via certification bodies such as RSPO and MSPO. He concludes:

“To go on vilifying and demonizing such a critically important industry, which continues to move forward on challenges like deforestation and better working conditions, makes no sense whatsoever.”

Facts on Malaysian Palm Oil

Let’s recall some key errors in Iceland’s campaign:

  • Palm oil is not a major driver of deforestation. The European Union research confirms that Iceland should be targeting beef, soy, maize and other crops instead of palm oil.
  • Palm oil is the highest-yielding oilseed crop in the world.
  • Malaysia is not deforesting. In fact, forest area in Malaysia is increasing. The United Nations FAO’s official statistics prove this.
  • The Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard is the core of the Government’s commitment to ensure this sustainability track record is expanded and intensified. MSPO will be made mandatory for the industry by 2019.
  • Malaysia does not burn forests. Open burning is illegal as pointed out by the Malaysian Ministry.

ICYMI – Europe’s Continued Effort to Ban Palm Oil “Sows Bitter Seeds”

This week, French news agency AFP reported about the ongoing discriminatory campaign by Europe against Palm Oil biofuel exports and the lasting damage it would have on Malaysia’s Small Farmers.

Following the most recent defeat of efforts to ban Palm Oil used as biofuels as part of the latest RED revision text in June, the European Commission is now considering whether to classify Palm Oil as a “High Risk” biofuel.

Malaysian Palm Oil small farmers know a ban when we see one, and will continue to oppose any discriminatory measures from the EU towards Palm Oil.

AFP reports:

“The policies that the EU is proposing to introduce will harm Malaysia’s rural communities and reduce incomes for Malaysian families,” said Douglas Uggah Embas, deputy chief minister of Sarawak state on Borneo island, home to many smallholders”.

“Critics say that palm oil development also contributes to climate change through deliberate forest-clearing fires, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and lung-clogging smog into the region’s air. Many under-pressure firms made “no deforestation” pledges, but activists say they are tough to monitor and frequently broken in the vast jungles of Sumatra and Borneo island. This week, Greenpeace said a group of Indonesian palm oil firms that supply major international brands including Unilever and Nestle have cleared an area of rainforest almost twice the size of Singapore in less than three years. But Malaysian farmer Mansor rejects the depiction of growers as an environmental threat. “(The EU) says we cut down the forest. But my land is on peat soil – there was rubber growing here before,” he said. “How can the EU claim that I’m killing the earth?”.

“An EU ban would threaten the livelihoods of 650,000 smallholders and over 3.2 million Malaysians who rely on the industry”.

Read the full story from AFP here.

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.

Malaysia’s Small Farmers Defeat Europe’s Planned Ban on Palm Oil Biofuels

Compromise Agreement on RED is Reached; Ban on Palm Oil is Rejected

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia’s Small Farmers took a major step towards defeating the EU’s planned ban on Palm Oil biofuels, after the EU reached a compromise position on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

To be clear: the final text of the RED agreed by the negotiators, did not include any ban on Palm Oil biofuels. Explicit criticism of Palm Oil was also removed from the final RED text.

This is good news for Malaysian Small Farmers, in the face of a concerted and aggressive campaign by a chorus of protectionists from Europe. It is important to remember why this matters:

  • 650,000 Malaysian small farmers and their families depend on Palm Oil
  • Palm Oil is the biggest driver of poverty alleviation for rural communities
  • The EU ban would have harmed the incomes and livelihoods of these families
  • Defeating the ban is a win for economic development over protectionism

In January 2018, the EU Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a total ban on all Palm Oil biofuels, from 2021. That plan was rejected by the EU Commission and by EU governments, following a well-directed campaign from Malaysian Small Farmers.

The proposed Palm Oil ban from 2021 has been completely removed from the final RED text that was agreed in Strasbourg on 13th June.

A final vote is now required in the EU Parliament and Council to confirm the RED Directive.

Dato’ Haji Aliasak Bin Haji Ambia, President of the National Association of SmallHolders (NASH), said:

“We are pleased the EU’s planned ban on Palm Oil biofuels from 2021 was rejected.  The ban was anti-WTO, protectionist, discriminatory, and totally unacceptable. No ban on Palm Oil will take place, and the European market will remain open to Palm Oil biofuels.

“This is a cause for celebration for all Malaysians, especially the 650,000 small farmers and our families across the country. All those in Europe who lobbied for a Palm Oil ban were really lobbying for poverty and hardship for Malaysians.

“Members of the European Parliament sought to sentence Malaysia’s Small Farmers to a life of poverty. They have stated already their plan to control Palm Oil again after 2019 through ILUC and a new regulation on Palm Oil imports for food. This is more of the same: discrimination and unequal treatment.  The fight continues.”

 

Here Are The Facts:

The Original Ban

On 17th January 2018, the EU Parliament demanded three very simple things:

  1. Total ban on all palm oil biofuels under the RED
  2. The ban to begin immediately in January 2021
  3. No other oil crops would be subjected to this criteria or discrimination. Only palm oil.

All three of these points have been deleted from the final RED Compromise Agreement on 13th June 2018. The EU ban on Palm Oil has been defeated.

The Situation Today

The three EU demands were defeated, and replaced with the following in the RED compromise text:

  1. EU Commission will present a report in 2019 about how to calculate ILUC and HCS emissions from biofuels considered “High Risk.” No specific crop is targeted.
  2. Based on the new EU report on high risk biofuels, some biofuels will be capped at their 2019 import level. There will be no ban on any crop. No specific crop is currently targeted for a phase-out.
  3. Based on the new EU report, some biofuels may be gradually phased out from 2024-2030. There will be no ban on any crop. No specific crop is targeted, as of today.

Palm oil is not mentioned, or targeted, at all in the new text.

It is entirely inaccurate to state that palm oil has been banned or phased out under the RED. That statement no longer exists in the final RED text.

Looking Ahead

The EU Commission’s planned report on ILUC and High Carbon Stock in 2019 will be the beginning of the next battle over Palm Oil biofuels. ILUC has been condemned as junk science by economists and experts worldwide. Opponents will now attempt to use ILUC and HCS as the vehicles to restrict the future use of Palm Oil biofuels in Europe.

Draft version of the RED Compromise Text – Article 25

In case the contribution from biofuels and bioliquids, as well as from biomass fuels consumed in transport, produced from food and feed crops in a Member State is limited to a share lower than 7% and/or a Member State decides to limit the contribution further, that Member State may accordingly reduce the overall share referred to in the first sub-paragraph.

The contribution to the targets set out in Article 3(1) and Article 25(1) from high indirect land-use change risk food or feed crop-based biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels produced from crops for which a significant expansion of the production area into land with high carbon stock is observed, shall not exceed the level of consumption in 2019 in the Member State, unless they are certified as low indirect land-use change-risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels pursuant to []. As of 31 December 2023, their contribution shall decrease gradually to reach a contribution of 0% by 31 December 2030 at the latest. 

The Commission shall submit, by 1 February 2019, to the European Parliament and the Council a report on the status of production expansion of relevant food and feed crops worldwide and shall adopt, by 1 February 2019, a delegated act setting out the criteria for certification of low indirect land-use change-risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels and for establishing the high indirect land-use change risk feedstocks for which a significant expansion of the production area into land with high carbon stock is observed. The report and the accompanying delegated act shall be based on the best available scientific data.

 

Faces of Palm Oil is a joint project of the National Association of Small Holders (NASH), the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), the Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA), the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) that seeks to advocate on behalf of Malaysian smallholders. To learn more, visit FacesOfPalmOil.org

Equal Treatment for Palm Oil Biofuels, Demand Malaysian Small Farmers

EU “Compromises” on Palm Oil Must Respect WTO and Non-Discrimination

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia’s small farmers set out their expectations as the EU institutions enter their fifth Trilogue negotiation over the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), on Wednesday 13th June.

EU leaders are split on how Palm Oil imports will be treated under the RED: MEPs have called for a total ban; the French Government proposed a freeze on Palm Oil imports; now new compromise proposals have been tabled calling for the EU Commission to investigate feedstocks expanding into “high carbon stock” land.

The National Association of SmallHolders (NASH) sets out that any compromise must treat Palm Oil equally; must respect WTO rules; avoid non-scientific criteria such as ILUC; and reject politically-motivated terms such as “high carbon stock” (HCS).

Dato’ Haji Aliasak Bin Haji Ambia, President of the National Association of SmallHolders (NASH), said:

“EU leaders, Ministers and Ambassadors have made multiple promises to Malaysian small farmers over many months. The only way we can trust Europe is if there is 100% equal treatment for Palm Oil biofuels. That is the only fair, just and WTO-acceptable outcome from today’s Trilogue.

“That means:

  • No cap, freeze, or ban targeting Palm Oil;
  • No deceitful technical criteria, such as ILUC;
  • No reliance on unclear and undefined terms, such as HCS;
  • No WTO-incompatible targeting of non-EU feedstocks.

“Anything else would be a betrayal of Europe’s promises to Malaysia.  

“The EU claims to disagree with President Trump – but if the EU imposes any trade restrictions on Palm Oil biofuels it is clear that they are simply copying & pasting Trump’s anti-trade playbook to satisfy their domestic protectionist lobbies.”

 

ENDS

Faces of Palm Oil is a joint project of the National Association of Small Holders (NASH), the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), the Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA), the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) that seeks to advocate on behalf of Malaysian smallholders. To learn more, visit FacesOfPalmOil.org.