The European Parliament holds the future of Malaysia’s palm oil industry in its hands as the organisation contemplates whether to continue European Palm Oil Ban or not.
United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) Youth chief Arthur Sen said if the European Parliament decides to do so, it could potentially cripple the oil palm industry in the country.
“Such a decision would open the door towards outright banning of palm oil importation into Europe, which is equivalent to 60% of our total palm oil exports.
“This would have repercussions on the fate of the 650,000 oil palm smallholders here,” he told FMT.
The European Union Environment Committee had voted to ban the use of palm oil in biodiesel in October 2017. This was endorsed by the EU Industrial, Research and Energy Committee a month later.
The European Parliament is expected to cast its votes on the matter soon.
Malaysan leaders have said the country will ban imports of European products in retaliation if there is a ban on palm oil.
“For Upko Youth, this EU ban is prejudiced towards palm oil.
“Malaysia has complied with the conditions set by the EU Renewable Energy Directive (also referred to as RSPO-RED requirements or RSPO-RED scheme).
“Malaysia has also issued guidelines through the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification to safeguard the environment,” said Sen.
He pointed out the irony of European lawmakers turning a blind eye to the deforestation in their own continent through large-scale plant-based oil production of soya bean, canola, red bean, rapeseed, corn, sunflowers, safflower and peanuts.
At least, he said the Malaysian government has committed to preserve 50% of its land as forest compared with Europe where some of the countries have only 20% forested areas.
Besides, he said, he doubted if Europeans know what oil palm trees are and probably think the plants are short-term like soy beans.
“In terms of land use, oil palm is more environment-friendly compared with soya bean because an acre of oil palm could produce seven times that of soya bean oil.
“This means, to supply vegetable oil to the global market, palm oil uses less land compared with soybean oil.”
Therefore, he said the argument that the oil palm industry affects the environment more than soybean or other vegetable oils is biased.
“Upko Youth plans to present a memorandum of protest to the European Parliament soon.
“I hope others in the country will also play their roles to state our stand on this matter,” he said.-FMT