Dr Basiron: New Research Radically Reduces Estimate of Emissions from Land Use Change

The world is becoming increasingly worried about the effects on food prices caused by the drought that has plagued the United States over recent months. Experts are suggesting that the corn harvest could be reduced by between 20-30 percent and because corn is used to feed livestock, price hikes for dairy and meat products are expected to follow suit.

Unfortunately, the agricultural development necessary to ensure that the world has enough to eat and is not held hostage by drought is strongly opposed by many Western Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (WENGOs). WENGOs claim that the conversion of forest land for agricultural use is a key contributor to deforestation and – over the past two decades – have opposed agricultural development on the grounds that this leads to deforestation that is responsible for up to 20 percent of global green house gas (GHG) emissions.

However, as MPOC CEO Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Yusof Basiron recently explained in an editorial in the Malaysian Star, research featured in the journal Science, has used new techniques to conclude that greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation  are only 25 percent to 50 percent of previous estimates. This means deforestation has had a negligible impact on GHG emissions. In fact, Winrock estimates that emissions from deforestation between 2000 and 2005 were just 10 percent of total GHG emissions and that these could be reduced further by 5 percent.

As pointed out by Dr. Basiron, the total, historical expansion of palm oil – a favourite target of WENGOs – since the 1960s accounts for a minute 0.025% of global emissions, or 1/100th of the share of aviation emissions.

These new findings demonstrate that the attacks on agricultural development and the claims made by WENGOs are unfounded and based on erroneous estimations. This realization cannot come soon enough as world leaders prepare to attend a Hunger Summit in London on August 12. As they convene, they should remember that only through greater agriculture investment and production will the world be able to enjoy more food at lower prices.

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Written by The Oil Palm