Things are not looking so good for palm oil these days, thanks to successful campaigning by environmental groups all over the world.
And Malaysia – the world’s second biggest palm oil producer – is planning to go all out to defend the industry even as European lawmakers prepare for an eventual ban in 2030.
On Tuesday (Jan 8), Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok detailed some of these plans, which include official letters written by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and a “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign.
According to Kok, PM Mahathir will be writing letters to the premiers of France and Norway to protest the EU parliament’s decision to ban palm oil.
Norway is the third EU country to ban palm oil, after Switzerland and France, Bernama reported.
The news website quoted the minister as saying: “Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will send in Malaysia’s official protests to the French president Emmanuel Macron and the Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg concerning their countries’ plans to ban palm biodiesel.”
Kok added that the letters will be made public once they are completed.
According to Bernama, Kok said if action isn’t taken, the ban would affect bilateral trade relations between Malaysia and the EU. She also said that Malaysia – a palm oil producing country – would not tolerate the decision made by these countries.
At the same time, Kok also announced the launch of a new campaign targeted at Malaysians.
Speaking at an event organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Kok was quoted by Malay Mail as saying that Malaysians “are not aware of the socio-economic importance and nutritional value of palm oil, besides it being more environment-friendly compared with other competing oils”.
According to Malay Mail’s report, Kok said many Malaysians were being taken in by aggressive anti-palm oil campaigns. Also, she noted that some local businesses had started selling imported products labelled “no palm oil”.
The year-long “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign will be launched by Mahathir in the first quarter of this year, Malay Mail reported, and is aimed at instilling national pride and greater appreciation for Malaysian palm oil.
According to Kok, events and activities targeting industry members, professionals, students, academia and the general public will be held to raise awareness on the campaign.
A Reuters report on Wednesday said that a study had found that the palm oil industry was deploying tactics similar to those of the alcohol and tobacco industries to influence research into the health effects of its product.
The study by the World Health Organization (WHO) also called for more research and tighter regulation of the US$60 billion industry.