MegaCorporations Own Everything

Who Owns What



Here’s an infographic that can help you make better palm oil avoidance decisions.  It shows what corporations own what brands.  For instance, Unilever is in the vanguard (allegedly) of using sustainable, traceable palm oil, so use THEIR products.  On the flip side, PepsiCo is recalcitrant and has NO palm oil policy whatsoever. So use this handy-dandy chart to boycott THEIR products — and tell them why!  Or the power of the market means nothing to them.


Expanded version here:

As Rainforest Action Network says:

All the biggest product brands in the world are owned by a handful of corporation. Food, cleaning products, banks, airlines, cars, media companies… everything is in the hands of these megacorporations. These graphics show how everything is connected.


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Lesser of Two Evils “Wins” In Indonesial Presidential Election?

Well, looks like the lesser of evils won the presidential election in Indonesia, though neither has spoken out about natural resource management. All I care about are the rainforests and its inhabitants, the orangutans, tigers and elephants.The US-trained, murderous, and wannabe dictator, from the Suharto era, who promises an authoritarian regime (?!) appears to have lost. I guess that’s a win for the environment, though presumed winner Joko Widodo is a former FURNITURE EXPORTER (Try doing that without illegally chopping down protected forests?!) — but we won’t know until July 20.


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I Love My New “Save The Orangutan” Wristband


For a small donation to the Orangutan Conservancy (Yes, but I’m still very loyal to Orangutan Outreach at, you can get a cool “Save The Orangutan” wristband.  The money goes to many projects, including my personal hero, Dr. Ian Singleton (middle in below photo, with me on the left), and his Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project (SOCP).  (Give to his Mt. Kilimanjaro climb to raise awareness of the Sumatran orangutan too here):


The wristband is a great conversation starter — and during these sun-drenched summer months (yeah, what’s up, with that, suddenly hot San Diego!?) — it looks pretty good on a tanned arm.


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Why I Continue to Hate the Human Race



These  brutal and graphic photos (sorry) need no explanation.  The most iconic of African elephants, Satao — with tusks so long that even this beautiful, sentient being knew his life was in danger because of his ivory (he’d hide his face in bushes around humans) — was killed with poison darts and then had his face sheared off with a fucking CHAINSAW!

I fucking blame the Asians who buy the ivory. I hate the middlemen killers, who MAY be poor and looking for a way to support their family (doubt it), and I hate the radical militiamen, some of whom may use the money to fund their rebel activities elsewhere (and god knows what else).  And I hate Kenya and the other South African countries for not doing more to save these creatures.

Give me a gun, a place to stay and I’ll be the lone, white ranger — out to kill any and all poachers — no questions asked.

I want to cry but I have no more tears left — this environmental eradication is so everyday now that I feel helpless and hopeless.  Fuck ‘em all — and kill anybody that has anything to do with this disgusting, soul-sucking trade.

Link to the story.  And give to the Tsavo Trust.



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Huffington Post Picks Up Orangutan Story On Orangutan Mothers by Rich Zimmerman!

I do volunteer pro bono legal work for Orangutan Outreach and its Executive Director Richard Zimmerman. In fact, I went down to Indonesia with Rich, his fun wife Robin, a Board member and the European Director of OO.

Indeed, I copyrighted this photo for the organization:


(Copyright 2014 Orangutan Outreach.  All rights reserved.  May not be used without express written permission.)

Great News: HuffPo picked up his Mother’s day-themed piece on orangutan mothers. It’s informative, fun, and details the perils of palm oil.  I hope millions of people read it and learn about the evil nature of palm oil.



AND DONATE to redapes.orgAdopt an orangutan now!

Or buy a T-shirt!  I love them!



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BOYCOTT Premier Proten Bars — BS Palm Oil Response



Premier Protein bars are available in our company kitchen.  But they contain palm kernel oil, which we all know is 1) evil; 2) destroys rainforest; 3) kills critically endangered species, like the orangutan; 4) enslaves the poor in atrocious working conditions; 5) exacerbates global warming.  I fired off my usual email, detailing the above.

Here’s their first response:

Thank you for contacting Abbott Nutrition.

We always appreciate hearing directly from our consumers, whether they write in praise or in offering their comments and/or suggestions about our products or services.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and will be forwarded to the appropriate people at Abbott Nutrition.

Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

I pressed onward.  Telling them they said NOTHING.  It was corporate bullshit.

Here’s their second response:

We apologize for any inconvenience, but feel we can best address your inquiry by speaking with you in person.

Please feel free to contact our Consumer Relations Department at 1-800-227-5767 (Monday through Friday 8:30 AM – 5 PM, Eastern time).

We look forward to your call.



Consumer Relations
Abbott Nutrition

I wrote them back, with suitable snark and a reference to the recent NY Times op-ed piece about the evils of palm oil:


Why should I take time out of my day to call you!?  Besides, if I call you I can’t read today’s NY Times editorial on the evils of palm oil over the phone.  It’d take too long.


Here was their final response:

We are unable to provide sources of ingredient that are used in our products, as they are proprietary to Abbott Nutrition.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience!


Consumer Relations
Abbott Nutrition

This pissed me off to no end!  So I wrote back, in not the nicest of terms:


Prepare for a boycott; you guys suck. Every other corporation I write to has a responsible Palm Oil sourcing policy — or at least they have enough sense to say they do. They don’t hide behind “proprietary information” excuses.  We’re talking about “nutrition” bars here. Not nuclear fusion!

I’ve been to Indonesia and saw for myself the destruction and death on the ground.

Your absurd, ridiculous response will get a lot of laughs on my blog. Prepare for some really bad PR.

Sure my little threat of a boycott may not really amount to much (what?, maybe 300 people)?  But the concept should scare them into action, right?

All this to say, I do not feel comfortable eating a candy bar whose ingredients are so sacrosanct (or dangerous, or destructive, or unhealthy) that they’re considered trade secrets.  Well, that’s enough for me.  I’ve advised my company, family, friends and you, faithful blog readers, to boycott this product.



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More Malaysian Palm Oil Propaganda?

“Environmental activists are sometimes ridiculous in the claims they make”                          — Isabelle Lackman



Isabelle Lackman is a primatologist and co-founder of Hutan, a non-governmental organisation that aims to preserve wildlife in Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. Today there are only an estimated 60,000 orang-utans left.

This was posted on Facebook (from a “news” story at, and featured primatologist who has lived in Malaysia for 16 years, who was interviewed for three hours and then that interview severely summarized.

The palm-oil industry is often vilified for the plight of orang-utans – but mud-slinging won’t save them, argues primatologist Isabelle Lackman

Today orang-utans are found only in Borneo and Sumatra, where they are threatened by palm oil plantations. What is the conflict?
There’s a clash over land. Orang-utans like lowlands, but this is where agriculture is most productive. Orang-utans also pull up oil palm trees and eat them, because the flesh is very sweet – they can be a real pest for the plantations.

Is banning the palm oil industry a solution, as some activist groups have advocated?
No. Palm oil is a huge source of revenue. You can’t expect the country to give up its main source of income. Anyway, the crop is not evil: it’s the way it is produced. The anti-palm-oil campaign raised awareness, but now it’s time to be more realistic and look at practical solutions.

Is there any truth to accusations of brutality levelled at the industry?
Environmental activists are sometimes ridiculous in the claims they make. The anti-palm-oil lobby makes horrible claims that are obviously not true, like that the whole palm oil industry is evil and all the plantations are slaughtering baby orang-utans. That happens, but it is not everyone. But because it’s very emotional, and there are lots of gory pictures, it allows activists to use facts that are not verified.

Of course, it goes both ways. Plantation owners will say they don’t encroach on protected areas. This is true, but more than half of all orang-utans live outside protected areas. Plantation owners also say orang-utans can survive in plantations on the fruit of the oil palm. This is not true. They can go in and eat it, but no animal can live only on oil palm. It would be like you living only on peanuts.

Are there efforts to work with the industry?
The industry has evolved. Some companies have now joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and some are starting to be certified as sustainable. But this is expensive, and because palm oil has been demonised, people often want to boycott it entirely – which penalises those companies that do try to do good.

What can people outside Malaysia do to help the orang-utans?
People can learn about sustainable palm oil and the RSPO, and even become members. At the moment there is overwhelming membership from the palm oil industry, and very few NGOs.

Also, we have launched a £1 million appeal with the World Land Trust to fund the purchase of a strategically placed corridor of land linking two protected areas. The orang-utans use it, and unless it is protected it will go to a palm oil company. That’s what we want to avoid.

Are you optimistic about the orang-utans’ survival?
The outlook is completely site-dependent. Some areas in Borneo are deforested on a very large scale; others are better protected. Overall, I would say that things are slowly getting better, mostly due to relatively good government support. In some places, the government has even increased the size of the protected areas. That’s not enough, but they are moving in a good direction.

This article appeared in print under the headline “Orang-utan alliance”


Isabelle Lackman is a primatologist and co-founder of Hutan, a non-governmental organisation that aims to preserve wildlife in Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. Today there are only an estimated 60,000 orang-utans left.

All credit to this source:

Naturally I took offense and fired off this email after finding her email address on the net.

Dr. Lackman,

Many of us in the environmental community have read your above-referenced piece asking us to forgive palm oil.  Frankly, we found it to be full of inaccuracies, rationalizations and falsities.

May we ask who is sponsoring this greenwash?  Is it the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.  I mean seriously.

There is NO SUCH thing as sustainable palm oil at this point.

Surprisingly, she not only received the email but responded in a very quick fashion.  I’m still not sure if I agree with her, but credit her for confronting the news-reporting and problems with the story.

Thank you for letting me know your opinion.

The point that I was trying to get through to the New Scientist journalist is that in East Sabah a large number of the remaining wild orang-utans live in small fragments of protected areas and that the long term survival of these isolated orang-utan populations very much depends on the possibility to reconnect these protected areas.  What lies in between these fragments of protected forest is private land, legally owned by oil palm companies, sometimes still under forest cover. The government has no right to take these forested lands away from their owners. They would be too expensive to buy. And no amount of boycott or international anti-palm oil campaign is going to convince these companies to give away their land for orang-utan conservation, quite on the contrary actually. If your goal was to secure the remaining 30,000ha of unprotected forests in the Lower Kinabatangan, what would you do?

I have lived and worked in Malaysia for the past 16 years and I could also tell you a striking amount of oil palm horror stories. I could make you sick just by telling you of my personal experience with the malaysian oil palm propaganda bodies. But this would not be enough to save Sabah’s orang-utans. Raising international awareness is an excellent thing to do, but awareness alone is not enough. We obviously also need to implement practical solutions on the ground to ensure the conservation of crucial areas of orang-utan habitat, which means, in the case of Sabah, to work with private land owners. It is not a matter of whether we approve of it or not, it is a necessity. And RSPO has been a good negotiating platform so far, with some of the companies present in the Kinabatangan for instance willing to make “sacrifices” for RSPO certification. I personally believe that the term “sustainable palm oil” is an absurd and contradictory concept, but I really don’t care as long as RSPO works in making oil palm companies do what they would never do otherwise.

The New Scientist article is all about Sabah, where the situation is very different from Indonesia. The journalist, who summarised our 3-hour discussion in a few sensationalised lines, probably did not stress that point enough.

Very best wishes,


So take it for what it’s worth.

UPDATED: 6/24/2013: (PAID ADVERTISEMENT) How is Palm Oil like the Battle of Thermopylae?

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