The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities is engaging with a think tank in the palm oil industry to present a thorough case to the European Union (EU) in January next year to address the anti-palm oil campaign and forced labour allegations.
Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin has stressed that she wants to present the case from the scientific point of view that palm oil is a productive commodity and does not harm the environment.
“Palm oil is the highest oil-yielding crop globally and a crop and industry that supports 650,000 smallholders and over two million people who rely on the oil palm industry as their source of work,” she told Bernama at the launch of the Malaysian Oil Scientists and Technologists Association (MOSTA) e-platform recently. “It is both economically and environmentally sustainable, versatile and healthy,” she said.
The minister also noted that scientists had identified new findings on saturated fats that show they are not related to or cause heart diseases.
“These are among the things that I am going to present to the EU. We have brought the [anti-palm oil] case at the legislative level to the EU since 1986 but now there are some things that we need to revive following these new findings,” she added.
MOSTA president Tan Sri Dr Augustine SH Ong said there are 17 oils and fats in the world and all are edible.
“Each one has its strength and unique properties, so let us compete healthily. As for palm oil, it can produce four tonnes of oil per hectare per year, which is 10 times higher than soybean oil, and it requires less land and lower cost. Therefore, it is contributing to the world. Besides, the palm-based biomass is also renewable." - Tan Sri Dr Augustine SH Ong
The biggest source of contention between Malaysia and the EU surrounds Brussels' plans to phase out imports of palm oil by 2030.
This golden crop has been classified by the trading bloc as resulting in excessive deforestation.
In late May, the World Trade Organization accepted Malaysia's request to establish a panel to debate its protests and an opinion is expected by year end.
Ong, together with scientists from MOSTA, will be joining Zuraida in her “war room” to provide inputs in tackling the discrimination by the EU and other countries.
At the same time, MOSTA will also attempt to address the misinformation about palm oil among consumers.
More information on the latest developments in the industry can be obtained at its website at mosta.org.my.