The EU’s Attack on Small Palm Oil Farmers: The Renewable Energy Directive

Palm Oil is a lifeline for Malaysian small farmers, their families and communities. Villages across Malaysia rely on the income from Palm Oil to secure a better life for themselves and their children. Millions have escaped grinding poverty, in this way.

The EU now wants to stop this success story. The Europeans want to undermine Malaysia’s small farmers. The Europeans want to ban Palm Oil in Europe.

The European Parliament has voted twice on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED): both in the Environment Committee, and in the Industry Committee. Both times, the Parliament has decided to ban Palm Oil biofuels after 2021.

Perhaps this is a game to some in Brussels: a fun project for Parliamentarians to draft some press releases, and pretend that they are somehow ‘helping the environment’ by banning Palm Oil. It comes from so far away, it doesn’t matter. There’s no downside.

However, this is no game. In villages across Malaysia – for 650,000 small farmers and their families – this is a matter of life and death; of income and poverty; of a bright future versus a return to the dark past.

In Malaysia 3.2 million Malaysians, including the children and dependents of small farmers, are reliant on Palm Oil for their livelihoods and the future of their communities. Europe’s actions risk sentencing those 3.2 million people to poverty.

A ban on Palm Oil is aimed at the only biofuel that is produced by Asian farmers, whereas rich European oilseeds are not banned. This is unjust, and will not be tolerated.

Malaysia currently protects over 55 per cent of forest; the Eurozone average is 38 per cent. Why are MEPs banning Malaysian crops, not European crops?

Palm Oil uses less land than any European biofuel feedstock: meaning more biofuel is produced, with less need for land-clearing or other environmental damage. Why are MEPs banning more-efficient Malaysian crops, but not banning less-efficient European crops?

Palm Oil also requires less tilling (which damages soil); uses fewer pesticides; and needs less fertilizer – compared to all European oilseed crops. Why are MEPs banning more-natural Malaysian crops, but not banning more-intensive European crops?

The Renewable Energy Directive attempt to ban Palm Oil is a direct attack against 650,000 Malaysian small farmers. Such a ban cannot be allowed to go ahead. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has stated that “Whoever boycotts oil palm products, they will face retaliation from us Malaysia and Indonesia.” Faces of Palm Oil stands with the Prime Minister, in defending Palm Oil small farmers against this European aggression.