Is Dr. Oz Shilling for the Malaysian Palm Oil Mafia?

Written by Ashley Schaeffer

The public controversy around “America’s Doctor” is heating up.

You may have noticed, for instance, the feature article in the most recent issue of New Yorker magazine titled “The Operator: is the most trusted doctor in America doing more harm than good?”

As we recently reported, Dr. Oz, a TV personality who advocates healthy living on his top-rated, Oprah-hyped TV show “The Dr. Oz Show,” kicked off 2013 by encouraging his millions of viewers to give palm oil a try for its “incomparable” nutritional virtues.

Problem is, he failed to mention that palm oil is a leading cause of rainforest destruction and orangutan extinction. This is unfortunate, as his ill-informed recommendation has inspired a palm oil buying frenzy.

What could have compelled Dr. Oz to blindly pronounce palm oil America’s miracle vegetable oil of 2013 without telling his viewers the whole story or offering any real science to back up his claims?

Consider this: The multi-billion dollar palm oil industry—best known for its role in rainforest destruction, species extinction and human rights abuses—has mounted an increasingly aggressive PR offensive to clean up its image, pesky facts be damned.

Over the past couple years the well-heeled palm oil industry has deployed it’s mafia-esque coterie of promoters, led by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and corporate-profits-at-all-costs cheer-leader-in-chief Alan Oxley to wage a sophisticated lobbying campaign aimed at altering the negative perceptions of palm oil by re-branding the controversial commodity as sustainable, healthy, even dubbing it “nature’s gift to mankind.” Sounding familiar?

While we can’t say that Dr. Oz did what he did because he’s taking money directly from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, here are a few puzzle pieces that paint a troubling picture:

    1. Bryce Wylde, the “health expert” who brought palm oil to the attention of Dr. Oz, posted a case for palm oil on his own Facebook wall—just before Dr. Oz pushed it to his audience—which was literally copied and pasted from MPOC’s PR campaign language.

    2. In May 2012 MPOC hired lobbying giant Holland & Knight to challenge the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’S) science-based findings that palm-based biofuels don’t meet federal greenhouse gas standards under the renewable fuels mandate.

    3. In 2011 MPOC created a TV advertisement that shamelessly promoted false statements about the virtues of palm oil to such a degree that the British Advertising Standards Authority banned it throughout the entire country.

    4. Prior to MPOC’s 2011 UK ad embarrassment, in 2009, a separate magazine ad, also produced by MPOC and entitled “Palm Oil: The Green Answer,” was banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for making “allegations—hidden under a thin veneer of environmental concern—based neither on scientific evidence, nor, for that matter, on fact.”

    5. Finally, consider this—Alan Oxley, MPOC’s biggest advocate, was accused by world-renowned scientists of propagating “significant distortions, misrepresentations, or misinterpretations of fact… designed to defend the credibility of corporations… directly or indirectly supporting them financially.”

    Is it purely coincidence that Dr. Oz and his wingman Bryce Wylde are promoting palm oil to the American public just as MPOC’s aggressive PR campaign and financially backed lobby muscle try to influence the American public and EPA’s big decision on palm oil?

    Or could it be that another embarrassing media censure is on the way like when a UK TV company was forced to suspend its relationship with the Malaysian government after broadcasting false information to millions of people around the world through programs made by a company that had received millions of pounds in payments from the government of Malaysia?

    Time will tell. Meanwhile, if you haven’t done so yet, please send Dr. Oz a letter now and ask him to correct his irresponsible statements on air.

    This post was originally published by Rainforest Action Network.


    Related Stories:

    What, Or Who, Killed 10 Rare Borneo Pygmy Elephants?

    Rescued Orangutan Gets the Gift of Freedom

    Your Belly Button is Like a Rainforest, and Here’s Why


    Photo: Be The Change Inc./flickr


    Jim Ven
    Jim Venabout a year ago

    thanks for sharing.

    Wong Jowo
    Wong Jowo4 years ago

    Read here an example of a properly executed Palm Oil scheme in Malaysia,

    "Fast track to 2013 and the Felda scheme model has become one of the most successful land development schemes in the world, widely admired by many newly developing nations given its strategic role in addressing Malaysia's poverty alleviation measures in the rural economy"

    Diane L.
    Diane L4 years ago

    Linda, even IF your "stats" were accurate, 50,000 Orangs in the wild is a very small number. They truly will become extinct without human intervention in the way of stopping the removal of their habitat. They don't exist anywhere else in the world except zoos.

    Again, the palm oil Dr. Oz is advising is not from the same plantations or sources. If it was, I'd be as against the use as the writer.

    Linda Everett
    Linda Everett4 years ago

    Dr Oz should be commended for having the courage to tell it like it is! There is little doubt that palm oil has many health benefits and tons of scientific studies have proven this over the years.

    The Rainforest Action Network and the Orangutan Outreach sound like a Greek chorus singing and dancing to their usual one note samba of deluded claims that palm oil destroys forests and threatens the existence of wildlife. Why RAN is the self-same organization who made the ludicrous claim in their website that the orangutan would be extinct by 2011. The trouble was that 2011 came along and the orangutan population in the wild, instead of going extinct, grew when new tribes of more than 2000 wild apes were found in the East Kalimantan province of Indonesia, as reported by National Geographic ( With roughly 50,000 orangutans thought to remain in the wild, the new find could add 5 percent to the world’s known orangutan numbers, said Erik Meijaard, senior ecologist for Nature Conservancy in Indonesia. RAN had to sheepishly remove their wild claim from their website!

    The issue of deforestation too flies in the face of facts for Malaysia, despite planting palm oil for more than a hundred years (and erstwhile the world's largest producer of palm oil to boot) has still managed to retain 59.5 percent forest cover, certainly far better than New Zealand's 31.87 percent or the UK’s 11.7%! (CIA World Fact

    Diane L.
    Diane L4 years ago

    Klaus, it makes a lot of difference if the source doesn't require clearing of land that is the only environment for an endangered species (or not). If you aren't a nutritionalist or a physician, then how would you know the benefits of consuming a type of palm oil (or not)? I don't believe everything "Oz" says, or any other TV "doc", for that matter, but that is not the point. You cook with whatever you wish, and until you ARE someone who is an expert, then don't advise anyone else. I'll stick with Pam or olive oil, but this article is still a misleading one and unfactual, and that should be "the bottom line".

    Klaus Peters
    Klaus P4 years ago

    Excuse me Diane L., grown in Indonesia or Malaysia makes no difference, rain forrest was sacrificed for those plantations. As for "DR" OZ he knows palm oil is bad for us, we might as well use motor oil for cooking.

    Klaus Peters
    Klaus P4 years ago

    Dr. Oz is a looser, goes for the $, has no principles, gets paid for what he says by companies. Used to watch his shows, never again, he used his popularity and turned to greed and dishonesty.

    Carrie Anne Brown

    already signed, thanks for sharing :)

    Tanja Zilker
    Tanja Zilker4 years ago


    Diane L.
    Diane L4 years ago

    Good points, Violet, but the point of this would be that Dr. Oz is said to promote a "fad" diet that includes a product linked to climate change, endangering a species to the point of extinction and that is MISLEADING and untruthful. Yes, he promotes what I happen to not be interested in, personally, either (palm oil) in my diet, but the source is NOT what these articles claim them to be.

    I haven't been a huge fan of Dr. Oz anymore than I'm a fan of any of the TV celebs, matter how popular they are. Oz is a cardian SURGEON and he is not a NUTRITIONALIST. I also watch "The Doctors" and go from there as well as do my own homework. Oz recently had an actress on his show that is vegan and while she's vivacious and efferfescent and doesn't look her age, her dietary habits and advice are not "sound" in my opinion. Oz never once questioned what she was saying as not being factual. Yes, she was a guest, but if the guest promotes unhealthy advice, as a physicial and surgeon, he should have said something. At least Travis Stork and "Dr. Lisa" stood up to Neil Barnard when he was on The Doctors.