Malaysia: Palm oil bashing a cause for concern

Isabelle Lai The Star 26 Jul 13;

PETALING JAYA: The National Association of Smallholders Malaysia (NASH) has urged French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to put a stop to anti-palm oil campaigns in France.

Its president Datuk Aliasak Ambia said the campaigns were a major cause of concern for hundreds of thousands of small farmers as well as the entire industry.

“False allegations about nutrition and the environment cannot be allowed to stand. The reality is that palm oil is the most efficient vegetable oil in the world, which is 100% free of trans fats,” he said in a joint statement with Malaysian Palm Oil Council chief executive officer Tan Sri Datuk Dr Yusof Basiron yesterday.

The statement was an open letter to Ayrault ahead of his upcoming visit here.

Aliasak said oil palm cultivation was a major catalyst for poverty reduction and increased prosperity in Malaysia and elsewhere.

He said these were facts known to scientists and academics, including those from French institutions such as the Institute Pasteur.

Malaysia’s commitment to preserve forest cover was much greater than France’s pledge to preserve 29% of its forests, he said.

“The strong and growing trade relationship between France and Malaysia must be a two-way one, built on trust and mutual understanding.

“Palm oil is one of Malaysia’s most important exports and many families in our community depend on it. A stop to the anti-palm oil campaigns will certainly go a long way in supporting the small farmers and their families,” he said.

He urged Ayrault to ensure French companies Casino, Systeme U, Findus, Lesieur, Lays and Jacquet immediately cease their campaigns, including labelling that denigrated palm oil.

He also asked that the government agency responsible for regulating consumption and competition, Direction Generale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et la Repression des Fraudes (DGCCRF), use its authority and powers to investigate the companies.