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Does Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification Impoverish?

In a terse open letter to top executives at Woolworths, Coles, and Metcash, the Consumer’s Alliance for Global Prosperity (CAGP), is publicizing its report “The Empires of Collusion,” which apparently proves that the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a tool used by the “greens” and “the NGOs” to “conspire to force their standard on consumers and workers across the globe…”

The letter argues that FSC certification does nothing but create trade barriers, impoverish developing economies and boost labor unions. Here are a few nuggets from the letter:

“As you know free trade is vital to ensure the marketplace is competitive, business costs are bought down and consumers have choice and access to low-cost products. It’s also vital to enable developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty.

But free trade is under attack by a collusion of greens, unions and big paper manufacturers who are using the environmental equivalent of blackmail – greenmail – to force retailers to stock FSC-certified paper products with the threat of public criticism if they don’t.

FSC-certification procurement requirements by major retailers is loved by greens, unions and developed country industry because it makes it harder for developing country imports to compete like those of Asia Pulp and Paper.”

CAGP is funded by the Washington think tank (yes, an NGO) The Institute for Liberty. I will refrain from offering a caricature moniker such as “green,” but I’ll simply note the website has masthead images of President Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

What do readers think of the report? Are greens conspiring to impoverish Indonesia?

Written by Lane Jost

A lifelong conservationist, angler, gardener and writer, Lane is a Corporate Responsibility strategy consultant based in Chicago, where he currently works a CR consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Prior to joining PwC, Lane was a global sustainability performance and stakeholder engagement specialist for Sodexo North America. He has experience in microfinance program evaluation at Grameen Foundation. A former President of the Net Impact Chapter at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Lane has a master's in International Development Economics from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD (IR/PS) and a bachelor's in history and international studies from Kenyon College. Prior to working in the sustainable business sphere, Lane spent six years as a communications and marketing professional focusing on arts and culture in New York City, where his work included the creation of the jazz website and serving as the publicist for the New York Philharmonic.


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