Categories
theOilPalmTruth

Claim- Member of the European Parliament, Katerina Konecna, of the far-left GUE Group, claims in a draft European Parliament report that: “palm oil as a component of biodiesel [should] be phased out by 2020” (Paragraph 16)

Truth

This proposal would have negative effects on a) the EU’s GHG-reduction strategy; b) the EU’s advanced biomass plans and c) the incomes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of small farmers.

Palm oil is by far the most efficient oilseed in the world. Biodiesel from palm oil is therefore responsible for using far less land, and far less fertilizers and other inputs, compared to any other oilseed crop. The use of Palm Oil has been shown by scientists to be highly beneficial for the EU’s renewable strategy.

Advanced biomass is also a major advantage: Palm Oil’s use of POME, used FFB and fronds, have significant benefits as advanced biomass feedstocks that can be beneficial for the EU’s pivot towards advanced biofuels and biomass.

Finally, 300,000 small farmers in Malaysia rely on Palm Oil – as well as millions more around the world. MEP Konecna’s plan to discriminate against Palm Oil, which would favour rich European rapeseed farmers, is a regressive and discriminatory plan that would harm small farmers across Africa and Asia.

The claim that palm oil should be discriminated against in the EU’s renewable energy strategy, does not stand up to factual scrutiny.

Categories
theOilPalmTruth

Claim- New European Parliament Report

MEP Katerina Konecna has written a draft report for the European Parliament entitled “palm oil and deforestation of rainforests”. The report’s goal to reduce the EU’s impact on deforestation is reasonable and laudable. However, MEP Konecna wrongly targets palm oil. The report is filled with untrue statements about palm oil that are contradicted by existing scientific and academic evidence.

The Oil Palm Truth will, over the coming days, outline the facts and evidence to illustrate some specific areas where MEP Konecna’s report is wrong about Palm Oil – and why other MEPs should not accept her claims.

Categories
theOilPalmTruth

Claim- RSPO’s New Planting Procedures (NPPs) are good for smallholders. 

Truth

The RSPO’s NPPs have been subject to critical debate. NGOs have pushed for them to be tightened up since they were introduced in 2010. Producers have pointed out their problems, particularly for small farmers.

At last week’s RSPO meeting the NPPs were rolled back for small farmers.

The RSPO meeting was notable for not one, but two, motions by different producer groups calling for a review and temporary suspension of the NPPs for small farmers.

The motions pointed out that the NPPs impose a massive and disproportionate cost for small farmers. They also point out that act as a deterrent for small farmers to pursue certification at all.

Many of the points raised in the motions were raised during the consultation on the NPPs, but were completely ignored.

Despite this, international NGO WWF reportedly objected to the suspension of NPPs saying they are an important safeguard.

WWF proudly mentions in its publications that it pushed for the introduction of the NPPs. It has also insisted at various points that there are significant financial benefits for smallholders in RSPO certification.

Research by organisations such as CIFOR show that this is tenuous at best. The ignoring of smallholder concerns by NGOs is a common story in palm oil is common. As CIFOR notes: “These stringent, rapidly implemented obligations may then present a serious challenge for smallholders and SMEs, who have limited access to markets, training, financial services, etc. As such, it excludes them from an evolving industry…”

Fortunately, this year, smallholders finally got listened to.

Categories
The Oil Palm

Sustainable Palm Oil the Norm? A Loaded Term

The Center for International Forest Research recently asked the question: “What will it take to make sustainable palm oil the norm?”

This is a question that NGOs often ask, and it’s often unqualified.

When NGOs ask, it’s a loaded question. It’s directed at Western companies and Western policymakers. It goes hand in hand with a series of assumptions about oil palm growing and palm oil production.  First is that oil palm growers are a large, homogenous group. Second is that oil palm growers are, for the most part, part of large corporations. Third is that everyone everywhere considers environmental sustainability to be the number-one priority. Fourth is that Western developed markets are the only markets that matter. Fifth is that ‘sustainable’ means all aspects of sustainability – including poverty reduction – are covered.

Anyone who has a basic understanding of palm oil production and palm oil markets knows that none of these assumptions are true.

But there’s such a misunderstanding in the debate over palm oil that Western NGOs have been able to push it in the opposite direction. Consider how NGOs are pushing for tighter, more expensive standards that are completely out of reach for small farmers, and exclude small farmers from supply chains. The most egregious example of this is the ‘zero deforestation’ traceability model. This was the model that resulted in Unilever having to cut 80 per cent of its smallholder suppliers from its supply network.

What this underlines is that most of the NGO arguments around sustainability are simply a string of Western moral arguments about the environment. They have little to do with balancing the perspective or producing strong social and economic outcomes on the ground. Fortunately the CIFOR research bears these fallacies out  – but don’t expect NGOs and campaign groups to be leaping on the findings.

Take this from the report’s executive summary when looking at the uptake of RSPO and ‘zero deforestation’ commitments by major companies:

“… oil palm growers are a diverse group, operating in a range of contexts; this means that current high profile signs of change by large multinational companies may not be representative of the entire sector.”

Or on the importance of sustainability among smallholder growers:

“In regions such as Sumatra with long-established oil palm sectors, the number of independent smallholder farmers is growing rapidly. These smallholders have access to an escalating number of independent mills, which offer competitive pricing opportunities. These mills rely heavily on fresh fruit bunches purchased on the open market and often do not have corporate purchasing policies or checks in place for legality and sustainability concerns.”

And on the importance of Western markets:

“…growers are catering to rapidly growing import markets in China and India, which place much less focus on environmental and social principles, compared to western markets.”

The research also bears out the reluctance by oil palm growers in Indonesia to taking on sustainability commitments and certification standards.

The basic and overarching problem is simple: cost. This is now a generally accepted point in the debate: certification is expensive, and small farmers can’t afford it without assistance from aid agencies or other groups.

Failing that, more NGOs have called for greater RSPO certification. The problem there is that the uptake of RSPO at the demand end is approximately 50 per cent. Why is uptake so low? First, there is almost zero consumer demand (well, maybe in some parts of Europe…). Second, because the demand is not there, there is no premium that can be offered to producers – so there is zero incentive for small farmers to sign up to certification initiatives such as RSPO.

What few people have suggested is that there should be attempts to make certification cheaper. It could be argued that some Western companies are already attempting this via support for small farmer initiatives. But this misses the point; these schemes only serve Western markets.

A Better Way Forward?

There is a better way: national standards.

Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) is the best example of this. It implements government sustainability policy consistent with broader national sustainability goals.  It is cost-effective because it has to be. These are standards that articulate the balance between social, economic and environmental concerns. One of the key differences between RSPO and conventional international standards is that RSPO is a private body not subjected to legislative checks and balances. RSPO as a body effectively decides who is and isn’t accredited to audit a standard, as well as developing the standard.  That’s not how national standards are formed or work in practice.

Under national and international standards, standards development and accreditation are distinct and separate processes. This is why, for example, a tyre maker can make tyres according to an official standard without having to be a member of a tyre producing body. So, producers don’t have to pay membership fees; they just pay audit fees. It also means that auditors can be competitive without cutting corners, as they need to maintain their credibility via a separate accreditation process.

But one of the reasons NGOs remain wedded to RSPO is that it is weighted towards Western interests.

The CIFOR report states:

“The majority of motions submitted by the growers target the governance of RSPO, generally requesting better representation of their needs. Private sustainability standards, with their origins or leadership in Europe or America, may be perceived as a new manifestation of Western control, as reported by four of our key informants.”

One of the problems with the Western environmental movement is that it has taken on a moral position that is generally fixed. CIFOR’s report on sustainability demonstrates that if it is genuinely interested in improving environmental outcomes, it needs to dispense with the notion that tougher, more expensive standards are always better.  It needs to accept that solutions developed on the ground – such as MSPO – will provide an improvement. And any improvement is better than no improvement.

Categories
David Martin

This Weekend: Palm Oil Food Truck Visits Lyon and Bordeaux

French Chef David Martin has new Palm Oil recipes for French consumers to discover

After the successes of the Palm Oil Food Truck in La Defense and Foire de Paris earlier this year, Chef David Martin is back behind the wheel of his moving kitchen. Chef Martin will be parking his Food Truck in Lyon and Bordeaux, two French cities known for their gastronomy and wine. The Chef will be preparing delicious dishes using Malaysian Palm Oil.

The chef’s four new Palm Oil recipes are a fusion of French and Asian cooking –

  • Chicken mango;
  • Fish fillet with coconut milk and red Palm Oil sauce;
  • Sweet potato fritters with spicy sauce;
  • A banana wrap with red fruits sauce.

If you are in the neighborhood make sure to come and meet chef Martin in person!

Saturday 19 November 2016 from 11.30 am at Place Antonin Jutard in Lyon

Sunday 20 November 2016 from 11.30 am at Marché des Capucins in Bordeaux

You can follow the events live on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, and on The Oil Palm’s English and French twitter accounts.

 

Facts on David Martin:

Chef David Martin is a French chef, celebrity and former TV host. He has opened and managed restaurants in Paris, and also two restaurants in Cambodia next to the Angkor temples where he lived for a couple of years. It was in Cambodia where the chef first learned about the benefits of palm oil as a local, healthy vegetable oil.

Categories
The Oil Palm

Malaysian Palm Oil Council: Response to Statements by Australian Parliamentarian Jason Wood

Kuala Lumpur – CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Yusof Basiron today responded to statements made by Australian Parliamentarian Jason Wood, that criticised Malaysia and Malaysian palm oil. Dr Yusof Basiron has issued the following statement:

“A member for the Australian Government – Jason Wood – unfairly criticised Malaysia and Malaysian Palm Oil today in the Australian media and in Australian parliament. He did this in order to push his own government towards the labelling of vegetable oils.

“The question is why? The Malaysian Palm Oil industry has never been opposed to the introduction of transparent labelling of all vegetable oils when it has been introduced. The Australian and New Zealand governments are currently considering regulations that will bring Australia into line with similar requirements in the US and the European Union.

“However, Mr Wood has used this as an excuse to criticise Malaysia and Malaysian Palm Oil, setting back relations between our two countries.

“There are more than 300,000 small farmers in Malaysia that cultivate palm oil. It has brought more than 1 million people out of poverty.

“According to the UN, Malaysia’s forest area loss is significantly lower than Australia’s. Both the Malaysian Government and industry have devoted considerable resources to the protection of animals and the environment. Malaysia has supported and introduced national certification systems for sustainable palm oil production.

“Mr Wood and his colleagues have seen fit to single out Malaysia and Malaysian Palm Oil. But the regulatory changes are about all vegetable oils – not just palm oil.”

“If Mr Wood is serious about protecting animals and wildlife in Malaysia and gaining the support of his Malaysian counterparts, he should consider engaging with us instead of criticising us.”

“Last week a report for the New York Declaration on Forests stated that deforestation caused by beef is nine times worse than that caused by palm oil. Mr Wood should take this into consideration the next time he is looking for foreign countries to criticise.”

Categories
theOilPalmTruth

Claim-The EU’s Roadmap on Trans Fats states that replacing industrial Trans Fats with Palm Oil would have negative environmental impacts.

Truth:

This is yet another example of suboptimal policymaking from the European Commission and disregards global consensus on the need to remove TFAs from the food system.  In June 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took measures towards removing trans fats from processed foods by banning it from the food supply chain within three years. The FDA says that trans fats are not ‘recognised as safe’ and the ban is ‘expected to reduce coronary heart disease’. The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, has been a vocal opponent against trans fats, working towards a ban with her ‘Let’s move!’ initiative to curtail childhood obesity. In addition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends reducing ‘trans fat intake to less than 1% of total energy intake’, indicating that trans fats are not ‘part of a healthy diet’.

Replacing dangerous trans fats with Palm Oil is accepted as a major benefit for public health. This has been proven and recognized by scientists and health experts worldwide.

Get the facts here about Malaysian Palm Oil.

The EU Health Directorate knows better, and to claim otherwise is delivering suboptimal results for EU citizens. The bigger question: why is the EU so far behind in removing TFAs from the supply chain when so much of the rest of the world has already done so?

Categories
theOilPalmTruth

Claim- The EU Commission’s Director of Renewable Energy, Marie Donnelly, stated that the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive should be based on emotion rather than scientific facts.

Truth:

The fact that the European Commission openly admits that it bases policy not on facts, or science, or evidence, but ‘emotion’ is a sad day. This statement by EU Commission’s Director of Renewable Energy, Marie Donnelly, comes as EU officials get ready to revise the RED Directive.

For anyone in need of a refresher, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive is being used as a discriminatory protectionist weapon against foreign biofuel imports like Palm Oil used in transport and energy production. MEPs, their Green friends and sympathetic European industrial interests each year look to restrict Palm Oil’s market access with policies such as Indirect Land-Use Change (ILUC) criteria for biofuels, which arbitrarily block market access for Palm Oil.  They’ve failed to date because these proposals are unworkable and unscientific. A WTO challenge is already underway related to the EU’s treatment of Palm Oil biofuel imports.  Facing this reality, they are simply going to make this an emotional fight now.

Learn more.

 

Categories
The Oil Palm

The Oil Palm: EU Admits Palm Oil Policies Not Based on Facts but Emotion

Those following the Palm Oil debate in Europe know that the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) has been, for years, a tool for protectionist European oilseeds to attempt to restrict market access for Palm Oil. Previous versions of the RED have included obvious and at times incredible attempts to discriminate against Palm Oil: all have been dismissed as anti-scientific, unworkable and in contradiction with the facts.

That the RED is anti-scientific is widely known but now this has been confirmed from the most unlikely of sources – the EU Commission itself.

The EU Commission’s Director of Renewable Energy, Marie Donnelly, was recently quoted as saying that EU policy on renewable energy should be determined by citizens’ emotions, “even if these concerns are emotive rather than factual-based or scientific”.

It is important to take a moment to consider the implications of this statement. The EU has accepted that its flagship emissions-reduction, renewable energy policy is not based on facts or science. This is a damning indictment of the weakness and the discrimination of the EU’s policymaking.

The admission – which is confirming what was known to be true in any case – is all the more concerning because in some important ways the RED Directive has worked well. An important area of achievement has been in the transport and energy generation sectors, where imported Palm Oil biodiesel has been used as a renewable energy source to great effect.

The use of Palm Oil biodiesel in Europe has risen, for several reasons. First, Palm Oil is incredibly cost-effective. It has a superior yield compared to its competitor oilseeds, such as rapeseed. Rapeseed produces around 0.79 tonnes of oil per hectare; Palm Oil produces 4 tonnes per hectare. The incredible efficiency and productivity of Palm Oil leads to cost benefits for businesses and consumers in Europe – not to mention environmental benefits, as far less land needs to be used to produce oil.

Second, Malaysian Palm Oil biodiesel meets strict sustainability standards both at home and abroad. Malaysia has a world-leading Palm Oil sector, with strict Government and industry regulation. The recent introduction of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard, aimed to cover all Malaysian Palm Oil, is the guarantee of quality and sustainability.

In order to qualify for biofuel imports under the Renewable Energy Directive, Malaysian Palm Oil must meet further sustainability criteria, in the form of certification schemes that are recognized by the EU Commission. Malaysian producers have no problems in meeting these demanding and strict criteria, such as the German Government’s ISCC certification.

The proof that Malaysian Palm Oil is both beneficial, and sustainable, is incontrovertible. Why, then, would EU leaders try so hard to fix the RED process against Palm Oil? A simple answer: protectionism. Ms Donnelly was correct in admitting that the RED is not based on science – however, her assertion that it is ‘emotive’ factors that are driving EU policy is misleading. What is driving EU policy is the fact that Palm Oil is taking market share from less efficient, less competitive crops such as European-grown rapeseed.

Protecting uncompetitive domestic rapeseed is why the EU previously attempted to introduce Indirect Land-Use Change (ILUC) criteria that would have harmed Palm Oil. It is also why some MEPs tried to remove Palm Oil from ‘approved’ biomass lists, without evidence (other crops’ position on the list was never questioned). Finally, it is the reason that new anti-scientific campaigns against Palm Oil have already kicked off ahead of the latest EU revision of the RED in 2017.

The campaign is about discrimination, pure and simple. A WTO case is already underway on an unrelated issue of EU discrimination against Palm Oil imports; the EU Commission sounds like it is inviting further such cases if it intends to ignore facts and science in favour of discrimination against imports in RED.

The admission from the Commission that protectionism and anti-science views will be promoted and accepted as part of EU policy is a warning. The next 12 months of biofuel negotiations will be difficult – and the market share of Malaysian Palm Oil is clearly under threat. Claims from the EU that this is based on ‘emotion’ or ‘public opinion’ should be ignored: this is discrimination for protectionist reasons, and should be treated as such.

Categories
theOilPalmTruth

Welcome to The Oil Palm Truth Blog

Today, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) launches a new Blog – The Oil Palm Truth – that will provide fact-based real-time responses to negative campaigns against Palm Oil.

Facts are the best antidote to the baseless rumours spread by anti-Palm Oil Campaigners whether in relation to Health, Nutrition, Environment or Sustainable Development.

To learn more, sign up for The Oil Palm Truth, click on the link here or follow us on Twitter @TheOilPalm