Authors Pierre Bois D’Enghien

My open letter to Ségolène Royal, after her statement against palm oil

On June 14, 2015, French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal, was invited to on a famous programme on access prime-time. in order to promote the next COP 21. She stated “We must massively replant trees because there has been a massive deforestation which also leads to global warming.

“Then she added, “We must stop eating Nutella for instance, because it uses palm oil which replaced the trees. And so there has been considerable damage.”

I had the pleasure and honour to publish a response letter in Le Figaro a few days later. This letter seems to have been well received by the public, since the text was shared by thousands of users on social media. Further, it has generated many positive comments. This is proof that people enjoy when we take the time to actually tell the truth. The letter was in no way a means to start controversy by openly addressing the Minister. It was to expose the reality the man on field the field that I am – direct contact with small producers – is confronted to daily. So, I wanted to reiterate that:

“Oil palm produces 8-10 times more vegetable oil per hectare than any other oil crops and thus, for the same oil production, it must use 8 to 10 times less surface area.”

“The use of other raw materials result in a greater land grab, less biodiversity and of course use of herbicides and pesticides most important.”

“Malaysia uses 24 percent of its land for agricultural development. In France, these figures are quite different: 29 percent of forest cover and 50 percent of farm.”

“It takes 100 times less pesticides to produce one ton of palm oil than for one ton of soybean oil.”

Madame Royal, your misguided words were particularly ironic and go against a previous statement of former Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, during his trip to Malaysia. So much so that I wondered if it was a blunder or hidden interests. I invite you to get the full article on the Figaro website.

By Pierre Bois d'Enghien

Pierre Bois D’Enghien is an agronomist and agricultural expert from Belgium. He has spent his career advising African and international companies about agriculture and sustainability, including SOCFIN in the Cote d’Ivoire, the Feronia group in Congo, and the Belgian companies Condroz Energies. He is an acknowledged expert on plantation agriculture, including palm oil.