Tuesday, July 27

No scientific basis for EU to ban palm oil as biofuel — Soppoa

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KUCHING: There is no scientific basis for the European Union’s (EU) proposed call to ban palm oil as biofuel, says the Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa).

In a statement yesterday, the association said the proposed ban is an outright discriminatory policy with no rationale, either scientifically or practicality.

“Practicality stems from the current use of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) in biofuel, which is about 3.5 million tonnes annually. To substitute CPO, another vegetable oil will have to be sourced, and locally in EU market, that would be rapeseed.

“But that itself is another dilemma – the food market in the EU, by law, requires oils from genetically modified (GM) crops to be labeled and rapeseed cannot meet such requirements.”

According to the statement, the only other possible source of vegetable oil is soya bean, but its production when compared to palm oil is about one-eighth.

“What this means is that it will take eight times more land to plant soya bean to get the same amount of oil from palm trees.

“Also, soya bean meal which is the end product after oil has been extracted, will yield four tonnes for every one tonne of palm oil,” it said.

Soppoa said it is highly unlikely that farmers will increase planting soya bean at current prices, adding that unless prices rise four-fold, it will not be competitive to increase production of soya bean due to cost of production.

“The ban on palm oil, as proposed by the EU, is something that needs more rational thinking that takes into account cost factors.

“Any policy born out of discrimination is bound to meet resistance and will fail eventually as the practical and cost factors of market will eventually catch up with such a move.”

Recently, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong stated that the whole issue of palm oil being used as biofuel had nothing to do with sustainability issues or deforestation, but was all about protectionism for European farmers.