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Palm oil alternatives use more land, produce less yield

LETTER | Early this year, Norway made global headlines by being the first country to ban palm oil-based biofuels linked to deforestation claims. The Norwegian parliament came to a vote to phase out palm oil from its biofuel industry by 2020.

The European Union has also been working towards the same goal by 2030, and is urging other countries to initiate their own laws and regulations like Norway.

With the ban on palm oil, Norway would have to source for alternative oils such as rapeseed, soybean or sunflower oil as replacements. These oils have their own unique negative implications on the environment.

It is worth noting that substituting palm oil with other oilseed alternatives would result in an alarming strain on land use, as these require nine times more land in order to produce the same yield output.

Oil palm is the most efficient oil crop in the world. As of 2015, oilseed crops use about 3.55 percent of the global agricultural land, with oil palm occupying the least, only 0.23 percent. 

Rapeseed uses up to 0.67 percent, sunflower up to 0.51 percent and soybean up to about 2.14 percent.

Not only does oil palm require the least amount of land, but it also produces the highest yield and has the longest life cycle.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok stated that the new law in Norway is unfair and unfounded. Kok has urged the Norwegian government to reconsider this action as Malaysia has been increasing its effort to produce sustainable palm oil.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is also joining in the effort by writing letters to protest against the ban.

Has Europe done its thorough research on the effects of banning palm oil? All signs are pointing otherwise.

LIM FONG is an advocate for Planters United.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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