Greenwashing Tactic #10: Gaslighting, Harassment, Stalking and Attempting to Discredit Critics

10 Tactics of Sustainable Palm Oil Greenwashing - Tactic 10 Gaslighting Abuse

Attempting to humiliate, gaslight, discredit, harass and stalk any vocal critics of a brand, commodity or industry certification in order to scare individuals into silence and stop them from revealing corruption

Gaslighting, harassment, stalking and attempting to discredit critics

This direct, aggressive and intimidating form of greenwashing can scare individuals into silence and stop them participating in online conversations or in exposing corruption.

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#Greenwashing Tactic #10: #Gaslighting #harassment #stalking attempting to discredit critics of an industry, certification scheme or commodity. We #Boycott4Wildlife #Boycottpalmoil #FightGreenwashing

Greenwashing’s most insidious and darkest form is the attempt to discredit, humiliate, harass, abuse and stalk individuals in order to silence individuals and stop them from sharing research and reports with others about corporate corruption, greenwashing and ecocide.

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Targets of Abuse

Abusive, Gaslighting and Greenwashing Pro Palm Oil Lobbyists on Twitter

Greenwashing by Gaslighting

Examples of Gaslighting

Greenwashing by Discrediting Critics

Who are the Pro Palm Oil Lobbyists?

Bart W Van Assen – Lead Auditor Trainer for the RSPO

Fraudulent Auditing of RSPO members

Stalking and harassment

Michelle Desilets

Jane Griffiths

Example: Greenwashing with lies, abuse, discrediting whistleblowers

Explore the Series

Further Reading: Greenwashing & Deceptive Marketing

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Targets of Greenwashing by Gaslighting, Abuse, Stalking and Harassment

Stock image - online harassment and stalking

Targets of this kind of greenwashing could be researchers, conservationists, activists, investigative journalists, whistle-blowers, concerned consumers or brands (both big and small) who have taken a stand against palm oil and refuse to use it in their products.

Anybody who delves too deeply into the inconsistencies, misinformation and corruption in the palm oil industry is a target for this.

This form of greenwashing is not isolated to the palm oil lobby, many other industries apply these dark tactics to cool down criticism online about the environmental damage and ecocide caused by fossil fuels, meat, dairy, timber and extractive open-cut mining.

Targets for this form of greenwashing:

Harassment and abuse has the ability to intimidate and scare some individuals into silence and stop them participating in online conversations or from asking too many questions.

Abusive, gaslighting and greenwashing Pro Palm Oil Lobbyists on Twitter:

It is recommend to block all of these people to make your Twitter experience more enjoyable with less palm oil greenwashing, abuse, harassment and hate in your life

Bart Van Assen is the most vile and abusive troll of all. He has harassed me and stalked me in two successive workplaces and has been banned several times from Mastadon and Twitter for harassment and abuse. You can also find him doing the same to other people on Instagram

Main lobbyists/trolls

Bart W Van Assen: (who juggles multiple accounts to disguise himself: @Apes4Forests and @eachtreematters and @vliegerholland.

Michelle Desilets: @Orangutans and @Orangulandtrust

Jane Griffiths: @griffjane and @newquaySSPO

Lone Droscher Nielson: orangutanland (appears to be a dummy account being run by Michelle Desilets).

Other trolls and fake sock puppet accounts

Anak Sawit: @AnakSawitOrg

Anti genocide: @wakyIIsr

BuleMewak: @Bulemewak

Dupito Simamora: @SimamoraDupito

Earthkeeper22: @Earthkeeper22 parrots the exact same messages as Orangutan Land Trust despite being shown loads of evidence that it is a lie.

Francisca: @sisca_gd

FMN Global: @FMNglobal

Kevin Butler: @kiwibutts

Hypocrite Buster: @hypocrisykiller

Joern Haese: @JoernHaese (pro-Russia troll, apologist for the palm oil industry)

Li May Fun: @LiMayFun

Like I Care: @lik3icar3

Maruli Gultom: @Maruligultom

Najis Keji: @najiskeji

No_Gaslighting: @Ngaslighting

Pax Deorum: @PaxDeorum2 (abusive troll pushing a pro-Russia agenda)

Penny McGregor: @penmcgregor (Disgusting abusive troll who is an apologist for the immensely destructive HS2 project in the UK)

Petani Sawit: @PalmSawit

Peter Ashford: @kaffiene_nz (abusive troll pushing a pro New Zealand dairy/pro palm oil agenda)

ProEqual: @PR03QUAL

Rainforest: @Rainfor60967488

Ray Whitley: @RayWhitley13 (Fake vegan/lobbyist who does not advocate for animals on Twitter but instead simply foments divisiveness and hate on Twitter)

Robert Hii: @HiiRobert

Shite Buster: @Justice4Abo

Via Vallen: @ViaVallenia

Viki: @ImaWereViki

Greenwashing by Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a powerful tool for greenwashing and psychological manipulation. The gaslighter sows seeds of doubt in online conversations from questioning and doubtful researchers and consumers.

A gaslighter will tell individuals that they are wrong and misinformed about the corruption, deforestation, human rights abuses of brands and certification schemes.

That they know far less about an issue than so-called ‘experts’. However, on closer examination, these ‘experts’ are a series of researchers, Zoos or conservation NGOs that are paid by the industry. They produce positive research or ambiguous and inconclusive research that supports their spurious claims of green sustainability.

Examples of gaslighting

Greenwashing by Discrediting Critics

Discrediting people (especially researchers) who produce evidence of corruption, deforestation, and human rights abuses associated with so-called ‘sustainable’ palm oil.

Targets of this form of harassment: researchers, whistleblowers, journalists, activists. Any person (particularly a public figure) who takes a clear and strong stance palm oil, who calls out the corruption of the RSPO and advocates for a palm oil boycott will receive online abuse.

Below: Serial online abuser and greenwasher Michelle Desilets of Orangutan Land Trust cuts and pastes the same response underneath of all tweets calling for a palm oil boycott to attempt to discredit the #Boycottpalmoil #Boycott4Wildlife movement.

Pictured: Serial online abuser and greenwasher Michelle Desilets of Orangutan Land Trust cuts and pastes the same response underneath of all tweets calling for a palm oil boycott to attempt to discredit the evidence I've gathered about the RSPO's corruption.
Pictured: Serial online abuser and greenwasher Michelle Desilets of Orangutan Land Trust cuts and pastes the same response underneath of all tweets calling for a palm oil boycott to attempt to discredit the evidence I’ve gathered about the RSPO’s corruption.

Other targets of greenwashing by discrediting on social media:

  • Dr Roberto Gatti: Lead author of peer-reviewed research showing that “sustainable” palm oil is not sustainable.
  • Aurora Sustainability Group: A group of researchers who produced peer-reviewed research showing that “sustainable” palm oil is not sustainable.
  • Dr Setia Budhi: Dayak ethnographer who refuses to be cowed or silenced about the immense corruption and indigenous landgrabbing associated with “sustainable” RSPO plantations in Borneo. Read interview and update.
  • Craig Jones: Independent photographer who visited an RSPO “sustainable” palm oil plantation in Sumatra (PT Sisirau) and witnessed a mother and baby being rescued from a location of total ecocide – an area illegally destroyed for palm oil – yet “sustainable”. Read this story and the report about the biodiversity of PT Sisirau.
  • Isabella Guerrini de Clare: Author of peer-reviewed research showing that “sustainable” palm oil is not sustainable.
  • Neue Zurcher Zeitung: Media outlet in Germany that published OSINT satellite data showing incontrovertible and clear evidence of destruction of protected rainforests and within RSPO palm oil plantations.
  • Dr Klaus Riede
  • Dr Birute Galdikas – the most respected orangutan researcher in the world, who has spent 50 years of her life in the field helping orangutans. She has for decades been a vocal critic against the palm oil industry. One of the few researchers who is brave enough to stand up to large corporations and the RSPO.
  • Paul Fraser of Meridian Foods
  • and me.

Evidence produced from dozens of different sources over two decades shows the RSPO to be a greenwashing lie that has been a complete failure across all of its own sustainability standards.

Examples of this form of harassment

Who are the Pro Palm Oil Lobbyists?

harassing, abusing, stalking, discrediting and gaslighting whistleblowers of corruption, greenwashing and ecocide in the RSPO?

Orangutan Land Trust is known by critics of the industry and whistle-blowers of ‘sustainable’ palm oil corruption as the Palm Oil Lies Trust

This charity’s three ‘volunteers’ Bart W Van Assen, Michelle Desilets and Jane Griffiths are responsible for most of the misinformation and greenwashing about the sustainable palm oil on social media.

They confuse unaware consumers and harass critics calling them trolls, sustainability deniers, psychopaths, morons and conspiracy theorists – they behave very professionally. For nearly 20 years they have greenwashed the RSPO’s atrocious record on deforestation, human rights violations and illegal land-grabbing.

Bart Van Assen

Former auditor trainer for the RSPO and FSC, Bart Van Assen juggles various account names on Twitter before getting them banned for abusing people.

Bart has had 3 accounts banned from Twitter: @thewicorman @wildingrocks @bartwvanassen for harassment, abuse and stalking people. As a result of this behaviour, he has also had several police cases opened against him. He even talks in detail about how he stalked palm oil corruption whistleblower @ExposeLies2 on his website: Wilding Rocks. He has abused and harassed countless other people.

He currently uses: @palmoiltruther, @Apes4Forests @Forests4Apes @BartWVanAssen @eachtreematters @vliegerholland on Twitter. In the past, Bart has trained people to undertake audits in order to verify that palm oil plantations adhere to RSPO certified sustainable standards. The RSPO’s audits have been independently verified by different organisations to be fraudulent.

Bart now harasses on Mastadon using this handle:

Bart’s now permanently suspended account on Twitter with the same name

A tweet from Bart Van Assen, former lead auditor for the RSPO and HCV admitting that the main goal of the RSPO, FSC and other certification initiatives is not to prevent deforestation. (Bart has formerly used @palmoiltruther on Twitter but now changes between @Forest4Apes or @Apes4Forests depending on times when he attempts to conceal his identity).

He now has a start-up: Kayon. He is asking people to pay him money to keep trees standing in rainforests scheduled for destruction for palm oil. He calls this ‘pirating a tree’

Bart Van Assen AKA @palmoiltruther and 3 other banned Twitter accounts @wildingrocks @thewicorman @bartwvanassen, banned for abuse and harassment of people exposing corruption of RSPO so-called 'sustainable' palm oil

Bart Van Assen: Former RSPO and FSC Auditor and vile troll on Twitter and Mastadon

Bart Van Assen: Lead Auditor Trainer for the RSPO

and full time greenwasher and online abuser of any person who declares that they want to boycott palm oil

RSPO Auditor Trainer - Bart Van Assen

EIA, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, Sum of Us, Associated Press, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Channel 4, The Guardian, Yale Environment 360 and ITV, World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have consistently produced reports showing that RSPO members continue with human rights abuses, deforestation and illegal land-grabbing and furthermore – that fraudulent auditing is the key reason for this failure of these palm oil companies adhere to the RSPO’s standards.

Fraudulent auditing in the RSPO

Many of these reports cite extremely poor auditing is a major reason for the failure of the RSPO. In other words, the auditing process is not, nor has ever been robust enough to prevent human rights abuses, deforestation and illegal indigenous land-grabbing from taking place.

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)

“Non-adherence to the RSPO’s standards is systemic and widespread, and has led to ongoing land conflicts, labour abuses and destruction of forests.

“As the world approaches 2020 targets to halt deforestation, the RSPO needs to rapidly implement radical solutions to restore its credibility. We question whether the RSPO is willing and able to rectify its systemic failures – ultimately, voluntary certification is too limited by its voluntary nature.”

Who Watches the Watchmen Part 2: The continuing incompetence of the RSPO’s assurance systems (2019)

Changing Markets Foundation

Greenpeace Logo

“While RSPO is often referred to as the best scheme in the sector, it has several shortcomings; most notably it has not prevented human rights violations and it does not require GHG emissions reductions.”

— The False Promise of Certification (2018)


Greenpeace Logo

“Implementation of [the RSPO’s] standards is often weak, with serious audit failures being reported, many members failing to meet the full range of membership requirements and grievances slow to be addressed.”

Destruction Certified by Greenpeace (2021)

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)

EIA logo

“Without assurance mechanisms that properly function, the RSPO has little credibility and its claims are hollow.

“RSPO companies have continued to be beset
by assurance issues in 2020. Associated Press notably reported on labour violations in Malaysia, including by RSPO members. These allegations included forced labour, the abuse of women and child labour, among others.”

Burning Questions – Credibility of sustainable palm oil still illusive – Environmental Investigation Agency (2021)

A 2019 World Health Organisation (WHO) report into the palm oil industry and RSPO finds extensive greenwashing of palm oil deforestation and the murder of endangered animals (i.e. biodiversity loss)

WHO Bulletin on Palm Oil: Deforestation and Extinction
WHO Bulletin on Palm Oil: Deforestation and Extinction
WHO Bulletin on Palm Oil: Deforestation and Extinction
WHO Bulletin on Palm Oil: Air Pollution and Health

RSPO’s annual conference 2019: a focus on faulty audits

It was also acknowledged that the taskforce did not have the capacity to handle the responsibilities that it had set itself, and that besides training, a new model where the work was outsourced might be needed.

In ending the session, the panelists identified the most important things that would kickstart better assurance, namely: obtaining feedback to improve the assurance system, formulating better social policy, improved communications, rigour in meeting deadlines, and maintaining credible audits.

RT Report 2019

Read more

Kirby, David (2015) Sustainable Palm Oil? Who Knows, Thanks to Derelict Auditors, Take Part

Lang, Chris & REDD Monitor (2015) Sustainable palm oil? RSPO’s greenwashing and fraudulent audits exposed. Ecologist: Informed by Nature.

Vit, Jonathan (2015) Greenwashing? RSPO audits rife with ‘mistakes and fraud,’ report finds. Mongabay.

Michelle Desilets

Executive Director of Orangutan Land Trust Michelle Desilets manages both the @orangutans and @orangulandtrust accounts on Twitter.

  • Bart Van Assen AKA Wilding Rocks AKA The Wicorman AKA PalmOilTruther harassing people and getting banned from Twitter
  • Michelle Desilets threatening and harassing people
  • Michelle Desilets threatening and harassing people

Jane Griffiths

@griffjane and @NewQuaySSPO

Jane is a ‘volunteer’ for Orangutan Land Trust, rarely does she openly harass or abuse people, however she does jump to most conversations about palm oil and gaslights and generates doubt. She casts doubt by citing the partnership of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the RSPO and an approval of the RSPO from David Attenborough in the form of a handwritten letter.

Example: Greenwashing with lies, abuse, discrediting whistleblowers

Craig Jones, one of the most respected photojournalists in Britain recorded a mother and baby close to death on an RSPO palm oil plantation – PT Sisirau in 2012

He was later told that he needed to hold off on releasing the photos of this hellish scene until after the RSPO conference.

He recalls it here

Bart and Michelle claim that Craig was lying about this, that PT Sisirau was not an RSPO member palm oil plantation. The problem with that accusation is that there is public evidence from the RSPO’s own website which shows that this is a blatant lie.

A complaint was made to the RSPO by Helen Buckland, personal friend of Michelle Desilets and Director of OrangutanSOS. She attempted to prevent Craig from publishing the deeply horrific images until after the RSPO conference that year. The RSPO took a full year to send investigators to the plantation to examine the situation. The complaint, meeting minutes and report is below.

Michelle Desilets who conducts greenwashing for the RSPO in her ‘volunteer’ role for Orangutan Land Trust is also on the Complaints Panel for the RSPO. She investigates complaints of human rights and labour abuses, illegal land-grabbing, ecocide and illegal deforestation on RSPO palm oil plantations. She was part of the decision-making on PT Sisirau, so her tweets are a blatant lie that has been caught out.

A letter advising of the cancellation of PT Sisrau's RSPO membership following the incident of illegal deforestation and orangutan harm, documented by Craig Jones.
A letter advising of the cancellation of PT Sisrau’s RSPO membership following the incident of illegal deforestation and orangutan harm, documented by Craig Jones.
Complaints Panel Meeting Minutes Michelle Desilets - PT Sisirau
Meeting minutes from a Complaints Panel for the RSPO – which features Michelle Desilets on the panel.
PT Sisirau's compliance to the RSPO's Sustainable Palm Oil Principles

Despite the presence of some threatened species, the area has an impoverished animal community. It is useful to look at the families that are missing. There were no tracks of: scavenging viverrids, arboreal squirrels and tupaiids and tragulids. All these would be expected in scrub and agricultural areas.

There were no overflying ardeids and other water birds from the nearby coastal wetland areas. No overflying hornbills from the adjacent from the nearby protected forests. In the scrub and secondary areas there were no drongos, flowerpeckers, starlings, flycatchers and babblers living off the local insects and fruit. There was a single cuckoo calling and no calls from barbets. And despite being a palm growing area, there were no parrots and no aerial feeding swifts.

The area within the project site and beyond in the Gunung Leuser Ecosystem area was extensively disturbed and clearance removed most of the low mobility, forest dependent species in the project site and beyond.

PT Sisirau’s compliance to the RSPO’s Sustainable Palm Oil Principles
10 Tactics of Sustainable Palm Oil Greenwashing - Summary

Explore the series

Join the #Boycott4Wildlife #Boycottpalmoil and fight deforestation and greenwashing by using your wallet as a weapon!

Further reading on palm oil, greenwashing and deceptive marketing

A Brief History of Consumer Culture, Dr Kerryn Higgs, The MIT Press Reader.

A Deluge of Double-Speak (2017), Jason Bagley. Truth in Advertising.

Anti-Corporate Activism and Collusion: The Contentious Politics of Palm Oil Expansion in Indonesia, (2022). Ward Berenschot, et. al., Geoforum, Volume 131, 2022,

Balanced Growth (2020), In: Leal Filho W., Azul A.M., Brandli L., özuyar P.G., Wall T. (eds)Responsible Consumption and Production. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham.

Client Earth: The Greenwashing Files

Contrasting communications of sustainability science in the media coverage of palm oil agriculture on tropical peatlands in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, (2020), Felicia H M Liu, Vignaa Ganesan, Thomas E L Smith, Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 114, 2020.

Commodifying sustainability: Development, nature and politics in the palm oil industry (2019) World Development
Volume 121, September 2019, Pages 218-228

Earth Day 2021: Companies Accused of Greenwashing (2021), Truth in Advertising.

Effect of oil palm sustainability certification on deforestation and fire in Indonesia, (2018), Kimberly M. Carlson, Robert Heilmayr, Holly K. Gibbs, Praveen Noojipady et al. PNAS January 2, 2018 115 (1) 121-126

Fifteen environmental NGOs demand that sustainable palm oil watchdog does its job, (2019), Media release. Rainforest Action Network.

Gibt es nachhaltiges Palmöl? Satellitenbilder zeigen: Auch auf zertifizierten Plantagen brennt es immer wieder’, (2021), Adina Renner, Conradin Zellweger, Barnaby Skinner, Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

Green Clean, (2021), Cathy Armour (Commissioner, Australian Securities & Investments Commission). Company Director Magazine.

Greenwash and spin: palm oil lobby targets its critics, (2011), Alex Helan. Ecologist: Informed by Nature.

Group Challenges Rainforest Alliance Earth-Friendly Seal of Approval, (2015), Truth in Advertising.

Green marketing and the Australian Consumer Law, (2011), Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Greenwashing: definition and examples. Selectra

Greenwashing of the Palm Oil Industry, (2007), Mongabay

Greenwashing: The Darker Side Of CSR, (2011), Priyanka Aggarwal, Shri Ram College of Commerce (University of Delhi). Indian Journal of Applied Research 4(3):61-66 DOI:10.15373/2249555X/MAR2014/20

How Cause-washing Deceives Consumers, (2021), Truth in Advertising

‘Is there such a thing as sustainable palm oil? Satellite images show protected rainforest on fire’, (2021), Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Adina Renner, Conradin Zellweger, Barnaby Skinner.

Kellogg on Branding in a Hyper-Connected World, (2019), Alice M. Tybout (Editor-in-Chief), Tim Calkins (Editor-in-Chief), Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

No such thing as sustainable palm oil – ‘certified’ can destroy even more wildlife, say scientists, (2018), Jane Dalton. The Independent.

Palm oil watchdog’s sustainability guarantee is still a destructive con, (2019), Environmental Investigation Agency.

Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation in Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone. Tania Murray Li, Pujo Semedi, (2021), Duke University Press.

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is ‘greenwashing’ labelled products, environmental investigation agency says, (2019), Annette Gartland. Changing Times Media.

RSPO: 14 years of failure to eliminate violence and destruction from the industrial palm oil sector, (2018), Friends of the Earth International.

Sustainable palm oil may not be so sustainable, (2018) , Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, Jingjing Liang, Alena Velichevskaya, Mo Zhou, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 652, 2019, Pages 48-51, ISSN 0048-9697.

Sustainable palm oil or certified dispossession? NGOs within scalar struggles over the RSPO private governance standard (2019): Working Paper No. 8,
Bioeconomy & Inequalities; Wicke, Janis.

Sustainable palm oil? RSPO’s greenwashing and fraudulent audits exposed, (2015) Ecologist: Informed by Nature.

Sustainable Palm Oil? Who Knows, Thanks to Derelict Auditors, (2015), Kirby, David, Take Part.

Sustainability standards in global agrifood supply chains, (2021), Meemken, EM., Barrett, C.B., Michelson, H.C. et al. Nat Food

Study in WHO journal likens palm oil lobbying to tobacco and alcohol industries, (2019), Tom Miles. Reuters

The palm oil industry and noncommunicable diseases, (2019), Sowmya Kadandale, a Robert Martenb & Richard Smith. World Health Organisation Bulletin

The palm oil industry and noncommunicable diseases, (2019), Sowmya Kadandale, a Robert Martenb & Richard Smith. World Health Organisation Bulletin 2019;97:118–128|

The Time Has Come to Rein In the Global Scourge of Palm Oil, (2021), Jocelyn Zuckerman. Yale Environment 360, Yale School of Environment.

Truth in Advertising: Green Guides and Environmentally Friendly Products, Federal Trade Commission: Protecting America’s Consumers.

Unequal access to justice: an evaluation of RSPO’s capacity to resolve palm oil conflicts in Indonesia (2023) Afrizal, A., Hospes, O., Berenschot, W. et al. Agric Hum Values 40, 291–304.

‘What do Millennials think of palm oil? Nestlé investigates’, (2021), Flora Southey. Food Navigator.

What is Greenwashing and How to Tell Which Companies are Truly Environmentally Responsible, (2021), Hewlett Packard.

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Hi, I’m Palm Oil Detective’s Editor in Chief. Palm Oil Detectives is partly a consumer website about palm oil in products and partly an online community for writers, scientists, conservationists, artists and musicians to showcase their work and express their love for endangered species. I have a strong voice for creatures great and small threatened by deforestation. With our collective power we can shift the greed of the retail and industrial agriculture sectors and through strong campaigning we can stop them cutting down forests. Be bold! Be courageous! Join the #Boycott4Wildlife and stand up for the animals with your supermarket choices

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