Malaysia is left with no choice but to retaliate against “the bullies” who are all out to destroy the palm oil industry although the ensuing legal process can be dragging and costly, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Hajah Zuraida Kamaruddin said.
Historically, she said that the negative image of palm oil started taking shape in Europe beginning in 2003, revolving around issues pertaining to sustainability before moving to the nutritional aspects of palm oil.
Zuraida said that the current practice of ‘no palm oil ’or ‘palm oil-free labelling in France and Belgium can be traced back to 2008 when the French retail chain Carrefour started to substitute palm oil in potato chips with sunflower oil.
“Singling out palm oil with the ‘palm oil-free marketing and labelling campaigns convinced consumers that palm oil is terrible whether for nutritional or environmental reasons or both,” Zuraida said.
“Recall that in 2019, the European Union (EU) has classified palm oil as a crop with a high-risk rate towards indirect land-use change, hence deemed to contribute to deforestation and loss of biodiversity. EU member countries are currently adopting the European Union Renewable Energy Directive II in their respective legislation.
Such a classification exercise will affect palm oil being a potential biofuel source since its usage will be gradually reduced beginning in 2023 before being ‘eliminated totally ’ as an EU biofuel source in 2030,” Zuraida said.
She said that this has led to Malaysia initiating legal action against the EU and two of its members – France and Lithuania – on 15 January 2021 under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Mechanism.