Youtube censors Greenpeace parody video at food giant Nestlé's behest

Nestlé, the world's leading food and drinks company, has had Greenpeace's new video removed from YouTube on copyright grounds. The video is a response to Nestlé sourcing palm oil from companies involved in the destruction of rainforests and peatlands in Indonesia. Palm oil is used in many popular Nestlé brands. The destruction of rainforest and peatlands for palm oil plantations releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere making Indonesia one of the highest emitters of CO2 and contributing to global warming.

Related: Palm Oil Action | Greenpeace KitKat Campaign | Climate IMC: Climate change and Indonesian peatlands
There is a continuing Global consumer boycott of Nestlé over infant formula marketing.

The Greenpeace video is a parody of the Nestlé Kitkat campaign to have a break by having a Kit Kat. An office worker is shown taking a KitKat break and biting into an Orang-utan finger dripping chocolaty blood. Orang-utans are threatened by destruction of rainforest habit - habitat being cleared for palm oil plantations. The livelihoods of local people are also threatened.

Greenpeace say that other major food companies like Unilever and Kraft are "making efforts to disassociate themselves from the worst practices of the palm oil industry, Nestlé has done diddly squat." Greenpeace UK lined the route from East Croydon train station to Nestle's UK office "with posters, leaflets and billboard adverts - not to mention orang-utans hanging off the side of the building - we hope to start raising questions within the building about the kind of companies Nestlé is doing business with." said Greenpeace in a blog entry.

Dr Pep Canadell, from the Global Carbon Project and CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, said in the journal Science two years ago that tropical deforestation releases 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon each year into the atmosphere.

"Deforestation in the tropics accounts for nearly 20 per cent of carbon emissions due to human activities," Dr Canadell said "This will release an estimated 87 to 130 billion tonnes of carbon by 2100, which is greater than the amount of carbon that would be released by 13 years of global fossil fuel combustion. So maintaining forests as carbon sinks will make a significant contribution to stabilising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations."

"The new body of information shows considerable value in preserving tropical forests such as those in the Amazon and Indonesia as carbon sinks, that they do not release the carbon back into the atmosphere as has been suggested," said Dr Canadell.

Greenpeace says that most of the destruction of Indonesia's rainforests and peatlands is caused by two main pulp and paper giants; Asia Pulp & Paper (APP - Sinar Mas) and its main rival, Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Limited (APRIL - RGE). Combined, these two companies control over 73% of Indonesia's total pulp capacity, and control two of the world's largest pulp mills. The 'conversion' of forested peatland is a three-stage process: valuable trees are logged for timber; the peatlands are drained by canals and remaining vegetation cleared by bulldozer and fire; establishment of monoculture plantations of palms for palm oil or acacia trees for pulp and paper.

South East Asian forests store at least 42 000 Million metric tonnes (Mt) of soil carbon. According to a scientific paper published July 2009 - Current and future CO2 emissions from drained peatlands in Southeast Asia - of the 27.1Million hectares (Mha) of peatland in Southeast Asia, 12.9 Mha had been deforested and mostly drained by 2006. The extent of carbon emissions released by destruction of these peatlands "makes conservation of remaining forested tropical peatlands, and rehabilitation of degraded ones, a significant opportunity for carbon emission reductions. The concentrated nature of these emissions, they are produced on less than 0.1% of the global land area, makes them potentially easier to manage than many other emissions caused by multiple types of land conversion. Improved water management planning for whole hydrological units (peat domes) is the basis for conservation of peat resources."

Greenpeace's ad is a campaign to ask Nestlé to stop buying palm oil that comes from destroyed forests! Nestlé continues to source palm oil from some of the worst offenders which supply its palm oil.

As Google has removed the video from Youtube at the behest of Nestle, Greenpeace have loaded it to the Vimeo file sharing platform and have written a letter in response to Nestlé's PR department.

Dear Nestlé PR department,

Hey! How are you doing? I know that when we highlight the damaging effect your business is having on the Indonesian rainforests, it must be a bit annoying. I hope you understand that we're only trying to get your attention because using unsustainable palm oil in your products is such a very bad thing. You see, we just can't afford to let the Indonesian rainforests go up in smoke to provide land for palm oil plantations.

When you told us that you cared about the problem just as much as us, sure, we had a few reservations.

For one thing, although you said that you'd no longer buy direct from Sinar Mas – the suppliers of unsustainable palm oil from deforested areas of Indonesian rainforest – you made no such promises about buying from people like Cargill, who buy palm oil from the same company. Really, if you're buying the same stuff, but via an intermediary, and you're not able to rule out supplies from APP, that's not enough progress is it?

I started to wonder if you really cared about this issue in the way that you claim to.

But I guess what made me really wonder about whether you really cared was when you had our video pulled off youtube, citing ‘copyright infringement'. Now, I'm not a lawyer, but I reckon that maybe the terms 'fair use' and 'parody' might be relevant here.

Hmm, actually now that I think about it for a moment, I don't think you really care about copyright at all. I think you just wanted to stop people seeing the video! That's pretty lame. Seriously, censorship is just so … last century.

I might also point out that we've already been flooded with offers to host the video elsewhere, and that your move has generated even more interest in the issue on the blogosphere and on Twitter.

To me, trying to censor our criticism doesn't seem like such a smart PR move. But then, what do I know!

Anyway, hope you're all well!

All the best,


GPUK Web Team