Many will by now have seen the recent research claiming that sustainable palm oil may not be so sustainable (by Cazzolla Gatti et al 2018). But whereas the authors declared ‘no competing interests’, JAN noticed the image right on Cazollo Gatti’s personal blog that links to a WordPress blog: Boicottaggio Sociale (The Social Boycott). Its info page contains a paragraph with a single name and link – back to Cazolla Gatti and his personal website – which may indicate this is his less personal website. The Google Translate of this paragraph is an eye-opener on the hidden agenda Cazolla Gatti brings to his research:
The biologist Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, Ph.D., proposed this new definition [the social boycott] and formulated a new concept because “the classic boycott is effective, but not enough. In a globalized world dominated by multinational companies, it is not enough to avoid buying something that is not good for us. We must make the reasons for our choice known to as many people as possible and to the companies themselves that we boycott, so that they change. In the age of social networks, we need to boycott socially. Do our part and let the world know. Not for self-gratification, but to be more effective in actions. So someone else will start to play his part and will be able to convince others “.
Have the peer reviewers of Elsevier’s ‘Science of the Total Environment’ missed this very obvious conflict of interest? And what does this conflict of interest mean for the credibility of Cazzolla Gatti’s research on oil palm?