Malaysia Fights Anti-Palm Oil Campaigns in USA

Malaysia is turning up its campaign to fight misinformation against palm oil and timber products in the United States in a series of forums from New Orleans, Louisiana to Washington DC from October 3-11 led by Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

“We are greatly concerned by the campaigns targeting the palm oil industry. These … can be biased leading to distorted conclusions about the environmental damage due to palm oil cultivation.”

There is definitely a concerted non-governmental organisation flavour to these accusations that paint a bleak scenario on the sustainability of the palm oil industry,” he said in his keynote address at the Roundtable Forum on Sustainable Development of Palm Oil here on Thursday.

He pointed out to the unfair calculation of carbon emissions for palm oil based on comparisons with carbon stocks of the pristine rain forests as the starting point.

Dompok said voluntary measures have been taken by the palm oil industry to obtain certification under the watchful eye of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

” What is most disconcerting is that when the first Certified Sustainable Palm Oil hit the markets, our critics made a complete turn and criticised the very RSPO process that they advocated in the first place,” he added

In an interview, Dompok said 157,000 hectares of land was planted with oil palm that met with the criteria set by the roundtable, which was expected to increase to 2 million hectares over the next few years. He added, his ministry through Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) initiated the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund dedicated towards studies, efforts and initiatives in conserving wildlife and the environment.

” We have established that there is a highly viable population of orang utan in the wild, despite the palm oil industry,” said Dompak, referring to a survey conducted in his home state of Sabah.

Malaysia, one of the biggest producers and exporters of palm oil in the world, produced 17.7 million tonnes of palm oil last year.

Of this, 15 million tonnes were exported to more than 150 countries around the world, he said, which reflected buyers’ recognition of Malaysia as a reliable supplier of palm oil. MPOC Chairman Lee Yeow Chor, in addressing the criticisms made against the palm oil industry, said the Malaysian government and private sector were serious about protecting the environment while mindful of the 3 P’s – People, Planet and Profit.

Saying that one of the worst enemies of the environment is poverty, he added that the oil palm industry has provided employment to at least 800,000 people in Malaysia.

The industry has emerged as a significant foreign exchange earner raking in an average of RM 30 billion for the past 3 years, Lee said.

The minister and his delegation comprising the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, MPOC and the private sector, are scheduled to meet the US Trade Representative, US Department of Agriculture, United Soybean Board and International Wood Products Association before departing for home on Sunday. Source : Business Times

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