KOTA KINABALU: Palm oil is getting a bad press in Europe as there is an effort to protect Europe’s own seed oil market, United Plantations Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Carl Bek Nielsen said.
He said the seed oil lobby was very powerful in Europe, with the European Union promoting olive oil which enjoys subsidies in the EU budgets.
“It has got to do with market share. Look at the amount of subsidy in agricultural sector in Europe today, it takes up about 40% of the EU’s total budget.
“They all know that product like palm oil does not rely on subsidies. It can enter the European Union and still compete without subsidy whereas all red seed oil cannot survive without subsidies,” said Bek Nielsen, who was speaking in his personal capacity at the 16th annual Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) meeting.
He said there is an effort to prevent palm producers from exporting their oils in certain markets and the parties involved are using all kinds of tactics to keep the market away from a product that has been consumed for 5,000 years with no health issues.
Bek Nielsen, who is co-chairing the ongoing 16th annual RSPO meeting here with co-chair Datuk Darrel Webber, said that scientifically nothing had been found wrong with palm oil.
“No other agriculture crop is put under such rigorous scrutiny. Can any other agricultural crop producers come out with the same kind of standard set by the RSPO?
“No other crop equals to this. We also want such standard to be applicable to soya, maize and what about rice and many other agricultural crops? Then you will see the impact,” he said.
Webber said independent research have shown that RSPO-certified plantation members have more orang utans, with the planters taking private initiatives in conserving areas the size of about 350,000 football fields.
He said there are strict rules under the oil palm certification whereby no area could be just bulldozed, as the planters needed to carry out assessment on important habitats and conservation value.
Admitting that there is a problem on human-elephant conflict, he said the state government is taking new approaches and is committed towards assisting in building the forest corridors to overcome the issue.