Are environmental NGOs cowed into silence about the industry most responsible for environmental destruction?

This is what I wrote for The Palm Scribe, a platform focussed on the development of the palm oil industry in Indonesia. 

“Suggest you watch the documentary “Cowspiracy” if you have Netflix,” said the cryptic message from a friend of mine in the palm oil industry.

I took his suggestion, watched the documentary that allegedly exposes the hypocrisy of the world’s largest environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network in attacking industries such as palm oil, pulp and paper and mining for deforestation while steering clear of the biggest culprit of deforestation – animal agriculture.

There, in the documentary, officially called Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, is a lesson and a half for palm oil growers on how to deal with the likes of Greenpeace and the Rainforest Network.

But first a bit about the documentary.

Made in 2014, the thrust of the documentary posits an important question: Since animal agriculture is the main driver of environmental destruction (from the methane emissions, water consumption, deforestation because of land needed to feed and graze cattle) why are these NGOs not going after the cattle industry as they do the palm oil, pulp and paper and mining industries?

Read more here

Missing the story among the mussles of Cilincing

It’s one of those stories that you read and wonder what the editor was doing when they edited this story.

Ostensibly its a photo essay story. A few mediocre shots about the mussle farmers of Cilincing, North Jakarta, slap in a few words and one page gone. Pack up and go for a beer.

Bu what a story the Post missed in the few words of this photo essay! In the second last paragraph the author says: “Before the water became contaminated with industrial waste, local fishermen could collect up to 1,000 buckets of mussels in one day. Today, they can only collect about 30 buckets. ”

Hang on. Isn’t there a story here about how these guys are harvesting mussles from contaminated waters and selling it to unwary consumers in Jakarta? Do the health authorities have nothing to say about it? Can’t the reporter get a sample of the mussles and subject it to testing for toxins and heavy metals?

Imagine what a story it can be if the results of the test are postitive.

But The Post being The Post, nothing wil probably be done about this. So keep away from the mussles.

Here’s the Cilincing story from today’s paper:

Photo Gallery

Mussel cultivation in Cilincing


Many people in town may love to eat mussels, but only few of them know where they come from. Among the places that supply these clams, Cilincing in North Jakarta must be high on the list.

For many people in Cilincing, mussels have become a source of income. The people in that area, from kids to adult, make money by transporting and cleaning up these shellfish. The men go to sea to harvest the bivalves while the women and the kids clean up the mollusks from the shells.

Mussels cultivation has become a profession. With an initial investment of Rp5 million to Rp10 million, local people can start their own mussel business. Usually, they can harvest the mussels once every four months. Before the water became contaminated with industrial waste, local fishermen could collect up to 1,000 buckets of mussels in one day. Today, they can only collect about 30 buckets.

Equipped with hand-made diving devices, the fishermen dive around three to seven- meters deep under the water.

They sell the mussels to vendors for Rp 3,000 to Rp 6,000 per bucket.