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The untold truths of palm oil

Friday, 15 February 2019

Most productive, most used edible palm oil is often misreported for fear of competition

A number of European food manufacturers like Island Bakery, Walkers, M&S, labelled their products as “No palm oil used” in a bid to misguide consumers that palm oil is not good which is a blatant discrimination and more importantly, to protect European rapeseed productions from competitions (www.ethicalconsumer.org). This was clearly noted in a publication by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in June 2018, stating “…oil palm is the world’s most efficient oil-producing plant as it requires much less land than comparable plants (1 ton of rapeseed needs 1.25 ha, 1 ton of sunflower oil needs 1.43 ha and soybean needs 2 ha).” IUCN further warns that if countries around the world wants to ban use of palm oil, “ …we will need more land in other areas to fulfill the increasing demands for oil in the future.” Hence, brands carrying no palm oil used in their products are not trying to save rainforest as claimed but to protect other oil seeds production against palm oil.

It has also been scientifically confirmed that cattle farming is the single biggest destruction of forest worldwide followed by rapeseed and soya farming but these are not told to the public freely as it will jeopardize the cattle, rapeseed and soya farmers livelihoods. Even today, large number of Amazon forests are disappearing due to cattle and soya bean farming but Europeans continue to close one eye to the destruction as it does not directly compete with their rapeseed productions. Instead the Europeans are pointing fingers at palm oil producing countries as destroying forests and so make palm oil look bad in the eyes of the world. If you look at the maps of Europe you will not be able to find a single country where there is forest coverage of more than 50% of their land areas whereas in Malaysia we are above 50% coverage even with diversified types of plantations and industries. The challenge is for EU countries to first make sure that their own backyards are 50% forested before pointing fingers at palm oil producing countries otherwise, they are just hypocrites. More telling is that even WWF (World Wildlife Fund) in its statement on November 2018 stated that “…WWF cannot support the approach of any retailer that removes palm oil from its products. Palm oil when grown responsibly and to the best standards is the highest yielding vegetable oil.”

Any impartial person can do searches for the scientific proofs that palm oil indeed has been proven to be safe, nutritious and beneficial for human consumption in scientific journals online and in libraries worldwide. Palm oil production in Malaysia is entering into sustainable practices with mandatory certification by end of 2019 which means that the oil can be proven to be sustainably produced. It is our commitment to the world that we are also concerned about sustainable practices for our main export item but we will not let others discriminate palm oil for all the wrong reasons. As also stated in the WWF November 2018 report,” Boycotting of palm oil will neither protect nor restore the rainforest, whereas companies undertaking actions for a more sustainable palm oil industry are contributing to a long-lasting and transparent solution.” Palm oil is still the most reliable and cheapest edible oil in the international market and with rising world population, sustainable and certified palm oil produced in Malaysia will be in demand for the years ahead.