A few weeks ago, the Biofuel Oasis, a women-owned worker's collective in Berkeley, Calif., that supplies eco-conscious East Bay drivers with sustainably produced biodiesel, moved into fancy new digs barely half a mile from my house. My car, alas, cannot consume biodiesel, but every time I drive or bike by the Oasis I smile at this inimitably Berkeleyan shout-out to progress.
Until today, that is, when I learned from Reuters that the head of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers' Association believes Western critics of palm oil are in cahoots with big business to destroy the reputation of his industry.
However, Joefly J. Bahroeny, head of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers' Association, said that NGOs could be part of a campaign driven by Western business interests in competing commodities such as rapeseed, soybeans and fossil fuels.
"It's all about business," he told a forum of palm oil producers.
"Palm oil has become a competitor as biofuel not only with rapeseed products but also a real competitor to fossil fuels controlled by Western interests. Do these other people truly care about global warming? Or do they also want to get rich with the excuse of climate change?"
Bahroeny said his industry had been accused of killing orangutans, burning forests and selling a product high in cholesterol.
"Now it's climate change. We don't know their real reason but we are suspicious. What next?" he said.
The sound you just heard was a thousand brains exploding at the headquarters of Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and yes, the Biofuel Oasis. Fellow travelers of Exxon and Cargill, these supposed greenies don't really care about the earth -- they're just trying to keep their imperialist boots firmly ground in the neck of a poor, exploited Asian palm tree farmer. Now when I ride by the Oasis, all I can think is shame, shame.