Keng Yaik warns of ramification of attack

FORMER primary industries minister Tun Lim Keng Yaik has warned the oil palm fraternity about the potential ramification over the attack on the palm oil sustainability issue, especially in its use as biofuel.

While some may consider the attack as a non-major issue as 90% of palm oil is used as food, he said the allegations on the use of palm oil as energy which entailed the release of more greenhouse gas (GHG), rain forest destruction and high biodiversity areas must be dealt with accordingly.

“First, we cannot neglect but must take advantage of any new market opportunities for palm oil, including its use as biofuel, to support future increase in palm oil production,” Lim said in his keynote address at the ongoing PIPOC 2009, which started yesterday.

Second, he said, the imposition of sustainability requirements would likely extend beyond biofuel uses to food, the mainstay of the palm oil industry.

Lim said the industry must adopt a three-pronged strategy to tackle the issue of sustainability – engagement with relevant stakeholders, research and development (R&D) and process improvements.

He said engagement with stakeholders should not only be at the ministerial level to influence policies but also at the technical level to ensure requirements in overseas legislations were correct and acurate.

He noted that R&D on sustainability should look at credible scientific data to support claims in order to substantiate amendments to the EU and US legislations that might discriminate against palm oil based on misguided information.

In addition, new technologies and innovative methods of production across the entire production chain must be introduced to enhance the environmental performance of palm oil.

On process improvement, he said the formulation and adoption of codes of practices for the industry as well as incentives could further encourage sustainable practices.

Lim also supported oil palm biomass projects that could be used as feedstock for developing second-generation biofuels.

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