Malaysian Palm Oil Council: Campaign Against Palm Oil Biodiesel a Rehash of Old, Debunked Claims

Kuala Lumpur (16 June 2016) – The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) is disappointed that the negative campaign against Palm Oil biodiesel – which was proven conclusively wrong in 2009 and 2014 – has once again surfaced. Comments from Green NGOs in various media are simply a rehash of the old, discriminatory arguments that have been debunked and seek to harm Palm Oil to the benefit of less efficient oils, which are produced in Europe.

The CEO of MPOC, Dr. Yusof Basiron issued the following statement:

“NGOs and competing European vegetable oil producers have tried for years to restrict the use of palm oil in Europe. Time and time again, the same lobbying campaign by the same Green NGOs was rejected. The allegations are as unfounded today as they were then.

“Statistics show that more than 50% of the biofuel used in Europe from vegetable oil comes from rapeseed, and only 15% from palm oil. Yet European oilseeds are spared criticism, while NGOs make continuous unfounded allegations against palm oil.

‘‘The success of palm oil-based biofuels in Europe simply shows that palm oil is a better alternative to other oils used in the biofuel market – it is more efficient, more cost-effective and more desirable.

“Palm oil is a major contributor to jobs and growth in Europe as it generates 2.6bn EUR in tax revenues for the EU economy. Palm oil imports also account for more than 117,000 jobs.”

T&E claimed that all of the growth in the EU biodiesel market between 2010 and 2014 came from Palm Oil based biodiesel. This is highly misleading, as it refers only to first generation biodiesel based on vegetable oil. The NGOs leave out two other important growth areas: recycled oil and animal fats.

Further, the US Department of Agriculture figures – generally considered the most globally accurate – show that, rapeseed accounts for three times more biofuel use in Europe, than palm oil. Why is there no focus on European rapeseed?

T&E alleges the environmental impact of biodiesel from Palm Oil is linked to deforestation and peatland drainage: this is false. Malaysian Palm Oil has a track record of environmental protection that is recognized around the world:

  • The Malaysian Government has confirmed protection of over 50% of land as forest area – a commitment recognized by the United Nations.
  • Malaysian Government policy ensures land is available for agriculture development (including Palm Oil) and forest protection and conservation.
  • Palm Oil covers just 0.3% of the world’s agricultural land, and has the highest yield of any oilseed crop.
    • Palm Oil average yield is 4 tonnes of oil/ha/year;
    • Rapeseed oil average yield is 0.79 tonnes of oil/ha/year;
    • Soybean oil average yield is 0.4 tonnes of oil/ha/year.
  • Palm Oil also has other benefits compared to the competing oilseeds named above. It requires substantially less fertiliser use:
    • 47 kilos of fertiliser needed to produce 1 tonne of Palm Oil;
    • 99 kilos of fertiliser needed to produce 1 tonne of rapeseed oil;
    • 315 kilos of fertiliser needed to produce 1 tonne of soybean oil.
  • Fewer pesticides needed to produce the oil:
    • 2 kilos of pesticides needed to produce one tonne of Palm Oil;
    • 11 kilos of pesticides needed to produce one tonne of rapeseed oil;
    • 29 kilos of pesticides needed to produce one tonne of soybean oil.
  • Lower energy input needed per tonne of oil:
    • 5 gigajoules to produce one tonne of Palm Oil;
    • 7 gigajoules to produce one tonne of rapeseed oil;
    • 9 gigajoules to produce one tonne of soybean oil.