MEPs Vote in Favor of Palm Oil Clampdown

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05 Apr 2017 --- European politicians voting on a report calling for measures to ensure a sustainable palm oil industry have branded large parts of the global production of the sought-after commodity a “breach of fundamental human rights”.

And MEPs want to see more done to tackle issues to counter the impact of unsustainable palm oil production which include deforestation and habitat degradation, particularly in South-East Asian countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. 

Voting on a report , originally put forward by MEP Katerina Konecná (GUE/NGL, CZ), MEPS  note that 46% of the palm oil imported by the EU is used to produce biofuels, requiring the use of about one million hectares of tropical soils.

The draft resolution - calling for the EU should introduce a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market and phase out the use of vegetable oils that drive deforestation by 2020 - was approved by 640 votes to 18, with 28 abstentions yesterday (Apr 4).

“We want an open debate with all players so we can make palm oil production sustainable, without cutting down forests and in compliance with dignified human rights conditions”, said Konecná.

“This is Parliament’s first resolution on this issue and it is up to the Commission how it acts upon it. But we cannot ignore the problem of deforestation, which threatens the Global Agreement on Climate Change COP21 and UN Sustainable Development Goals”, she added.

MEPs call on the Commission to take measures to phase out the use of vegetable oils that drive deforestation, including palm oil, as a component of biofuels, preferably by 2020.

Anita Neville, VP corporate communications and sustainability relations at Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), Indonesia’s largest grower of palm oil, said: “The EU is right to recognize that palm oil can be grown sustainably and has a major role in economic development, especially when 40% of the Indonesian crop is grown by smallholder farmers.”
 
“The EU is already driving responsible production through demand for sustainable palm oil. My view is that instead of cutting back, the EU should instead go further in its support -  the EU can achieve much more by acting as a powerful incentive for sustainable development than by limiting ties.”

Single Certification Scheme

Voluntary certification schemes that promote sustainable cultivation of palm oil are often open to criticism and are confusing for consumers, according to MEPs. They advocate a single certification scheme to guarantee that only sustainably produced palm oil enters the EU market.

They also call on the EU to introduce sustainability criteria for palm oil and products containing palm oil entering the EU market. The Commission should improve the traceability of palm oil imported into the EU and should consider applying different customs duty schemes that reflect real costs more accurately until the single certification scheme takes effect.

MEPs also stress that a large part of the global production of palm oil is in breach of fundamental human rights and adequate social standards. It frequently uses child labor, and there are many land conflicts between local and indigenous communities and palm oil concession holders.

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