Best of 2014: Book takes long look at a controversial crop

Patrice Levang and Alain Rival release Palms of Controversies: Oil Palm and Development Challenges.
Scientist: “The problem is not the oil palm but the way people have chosen to exploit it.”

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BOGOR, Indonesia—Palm oil was a hot topic in 2014, with demand for—and antipathy toward—the tropical forest commodity reaching record highs (even as palm oil prices hit new lows).

A new book co-authored by CIFOR scientist Patrice Levang sought to inject a measure of sanity to the discussion, pointing the way to sustainable, zero-deforestation solutions for oil palm.

How can a single plant cause such a divergence of viewpoints?

This is the question that Alain Rival and Patrice Levang tackled in a book, “Palms of controversies: Oil palm and development challenges,” translated into English earlier this year and published online by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

“The problem,” the authors write, “is not the oil palm but the way people have chosen to exploit it.”

A book review, infographic and interview with Levang were among the most highly read features on Forests News in 2014.


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