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Coconut oil from across the Caribbean on display at Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Barbados. (iWN photo)
Coconut oil from across the Caribbean on display at Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Barbados. (iWN photo)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — As voices begin to reappear against the health benefits of coconut oil, the head of CARICOM’s agricultural agency says regional scientists need to become a part of the discussion.

Barton Clarke, head of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), told reporters at Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) that coconut oil has had to battle the soya bean lobby, which said that coconut oil was unhealthy.

He, however, said coconut oil was used for cooking, medicines and cosmetics.

“We need to join the lobby. We need to get the right partners. In other words, we need to engage with the ministries of health, we need to engage with doctors, we need to engage with the universities and the laboratories so that we do our own studies and we say yes, this is good,”

“Because there is still a lot of debate out there about who is right and who is wrong, which acid we are talking about, which fatty acid we are talking about. Is this fatty acid the one that causes the high cholesterol, or whatever. And then we are hearing that there are good cholesterols and bad cholesterols,” he said during an interview on the sidelines of Caribbean Week of Agriculture.

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He was asked to comment on a recent statement in August by Karin Michels, an adjunct professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, that coconut oil “one of the worst things you can eat” and that it is good for wellbeing as “pure poison”.

Michels’ comment came at a time when there is an increased global demand for coconut products, which are being hailed as superfoods, signalling great potential economic benefits for the Caribbean.

Clarke said that the Caribbean can only join the lobby by way of partnerships.

“This is a discussion that we have with the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the University of the West Indies at Mona, the medical faculty, because we need to be part of that lobby. Too much is at stake for us to just sit back and say because it is Harvard and think that we need to accept it. No. We are scientists as well, and, therefore, we need to allow the science to speak the truth.”

He said that the Caribbean has to join with other coconut-producing regions to protect the integrity of the coconut as a healthy food and a safe ingredient in cosmeceuticals and pharmaceuticals.

“And there is almost a pact that we have established with our colleagues in the Pacific, because there is a parallel project going on right now in the Pacific also supported by financing from the European Union and we met last week in Brussels,” Clarke said.

Among the topics over the five-day period of the event, the opportunity is taken by regional organisations to host a number of workshops, which will be held simultaneously throughout each day. The Development of the regional coconut industry is the focus of one of the technical workshops being held during the five-day CWA, which is taking place under the theme Strengthening agriculture for a healthier future in the region”.

Clarke said:

“Our dream for coconut is to restore it to where it becomes, once again, part of the fabric of life in the Caribbean; that we take advantage of the benefits that accrue.

9 replies on “C’bean scientists must lobby for coconut oil — CARDI”

  1. It is unconscionable for CARDI to be lobbying for the increased use of coconut derivatives in cooking, baking, or oral injection because coconut products are certainly one of the most unhealthy foods known to mankind as decades of research has shown.

    To be sure, the occasional use of coconut products in cooking will not kill you, but regular use will certainly help shorten your life.

    By all means, put coconut oil on your skin or add it to other skin care products but don’t put it in your mouth or in your cooking pot on a regular basis unless you want to clog your arteries and experience an early death (

    If you don’t believe me, just Google “coconut oil dangers.”

    1. There are many studies that claim to disprove the poison claims and one or two that make such claims as to it being poisonous.

      In an online video that has gone viral, a Harvard professor takes on the popular food coconut oil, calling it “pure poison.”

      The shame is that C.ben-David puts himself forward as some kind of authority, he is not. He certainly consumed plenty of coconut product as a child in Africa before his school days in the UK. Has it affected him? perhaps a new study should be made on the affect on mental health to be able to answer that.

  2. Very much agree with whats said in this article ……take notes what happened to marijuana …if the Corp. conglomerates see profits and controllable in coconut oil best believe it will be the next big thing

  3. If I remember correctly the great agronomist James Mitchell destroyed the coconut industry with the claim that coconut oil contained bad cholesterol. Why is no one calling out this fraudster? instead you quoting him these days as if he has relevance? Ask him what he has to say now.

    1. More ULP propaganda lies. Prove he said that, where is the written or recorded evidence Mitchell ever said such a thing.

  4. Jodain Johnson says:

    I use coconut oil 24/7s and no scientist can tell me its bad for me. Bad cholesterol comes from anything that have a liver. I grow up on it and i am still here along with my other sibblings all healthy.

  5. Dèsirè Davis says:

    Coconut oil has been used for decades in many part of Africa and Asia countries. There has never been proved of any danger on the health of the regular consumption of the oil. Why can’t we( nation’s) involved in the production of these oil sat back and reflect that is all propaganda. In order to ridicule what is been produced in the so called countries reffered to as thirds countries or developing countries which are yet to go through industrialization. Palm oil was classified as dangerous, now is the turn of coconut oil, all for the sake of promoting their refined oil classified as been the best. Ever before the discovery of health benefits of coconut oil, there has been effect of oil consumption on the health (cholesterol)of the so called western world. The consumption of coconut oil and palm oil are increasing over oilve oil, a way must be find in reducing it value. It all market tragedies, being published by Harvard professor will make it more believable. Because, the university is classified as one of the best so far. It’s high time we make our products valuable by investigation,investing in researching on the health benefits and it impact on general well being.

  6. C.Ben-David , just a question. Do you trust Google as a reputable medical data base? Its akin to have a required medical operation done by am architect rather than a medical practitioner. I will trust them to show me how to navigate from point a to b but not for medical advice. That’s it my friend.

  7. Our health educators of the 1970’s used to discourage the use of “bush tea” claiming that they were bad for our health. However when leaves of some of the same plants were packaged and shipped to us as HERBAL TEA they were acclaimed as superior to any other tea.
    The coconut oil story may not be any different. Unfortunately, as a people we believe that information from outside is always better.
    Issues like this point the way for our next generation of scientists to promote the benefits of indigenous and locally produced plants.

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