Palm Oil & Environment: Fact-checking the European Parliament Report

Ahead of the vote on Palm Oil & Deforestation in the European Parliament on April 4th, The Oil Palm is fact-checking the Environment Committee’s Report.

Here are the Facts.

#4 – Environment

Claim

In Recital L, the Report states –

The establishment of palm oil plantations is resulting in massive forest fires, the drying up of rivers, soil erosion, peatland drainage, pollution of waterways and overall loss of biodiversity.

Truth

Oil Palm is the world’s most land-efficient vegetable oil-bearing crop, and has the lowest environmental footprint of any oil-bearing crop. Oil Palm has superior yields. More oil is produced per hectare. Substantially less fertiliser is used. Fewer pesticides are needed. Oil Palm also has the lowest energy inputs needed, per tonne of oil produced.

Oil Palm’s superior efficiency, using far less land area, allows more space to be set aside for forests and for preserving biodiversity.

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#5 – Forest Cover

Claim

In Paragraph 4 and Recital M, the Report states –

40% of global deforestation is caused by conversion to oil palm plantations.

Whereas the consumption of palm oil and its derived processed goods plays a major role in the impact of EU consumption on global deforestation.

Truth

This has been disproved by the EU’s own research. In 2013 the EU commissioned research looking into the causes of deforestation globally. The report calculates that over a 20-year period, about 132 million hectares (Mha) of deforestation can be attributed to the agriculture and forestry sector. Of this, 58Mha – a little less than half — was cleared for livestock grazing. The others are “soybeans (13 Mha), maize (8 Mha), oil palm (6 Mha), wood products (5 Mha), rice (4 Mha), and sugar cane (3 Mha).” So, out of a total 239Mha of deforestation, 2.5 per cent can be attributed to Palm Oil, less than soybean, beef, maize and infrastructure development

Malaysian Palm Oil exported to the EU is NOT the cause of deforestation. In Malaysia, 56.4% of land has been kept as forest area, while setting aside 20% of land for agricultural development. Forest area in Malaysia is increasing, as verified by United Nations statistics. This is a track record of development and forest protection that no EU country can match.