NL Times

Nature

Too Much Palm Oil In Gasoline

The use and processing of the controversial biofuel palm oil in the Netherlands has doubled in the past six years, up to 1.3 million tonnes in 2012 . This is stated in a research report published on Monday by the European umbrella organization of Milieudefensie.

Wednesday, the European Parliament will approve a proposal of the European Commission, to reduce the use of food crops (including palm oil) to a maximum of 5 percent in fuel mixes. Milieudefensie calls on parliamentarians to support this plan .

Largest importer

Throughout the European Union, the use of palm oil for biofuels has increased since 2006 by 365 percent. That is much more than expected, say the researchers. At this moment, the biofuel mix contains 20 percent palm oil in Europe . Netherlands is, of the EU countries, the largest importer and processor of palm oil. According to the report, the increase is mainly due to the EU’s policy to encourage the use of biofuel in the transport sector

Unacceptable

“It is unacceptable that we are stuffing our tanks in the Netherlands and Europe with palm oil, while elsewhere in the world this leads to deforestation and food shortages,” says campaigner Geert Ritsema of Milieudefensie. International institutions such as the World Food Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warn already for years on the problems surrounding bio-fuel, according to Ritsema.

Due to the increasing demand for this fuel for cars there are more and more oil palm plantations.

Palm oil

Palm oil is vegetable oil which is extracted from the fruit of the oil palm. Palm oil contains more saturated fat than other oils. Saturated fats are known to be unhealthy.

Palm oil is considered the most widely used vegetable oil in the world and is used in making all kinds of food products, such as margarine, frying oil and biscuits, but also in bio-fuel and products such as soap and lipstick.

Oil palm plantations

Malaysia and Indonesia have the most plantations. Indonesia has more than six million hectares planted with palm trees and oil palm plantations in Malaysia cover about 4 million hectares. For this purpose tropical rainforests are cut down and burned, leading to additional greenhouse gas emissions.

The companies that operate the oil palm plantations have all strong arguments to recommend the use of palm oil. These rich companies have no message to the equally strong counterarguments, which indicate that valuable farmland disappears, that there is much impact on the environment, forests disappears and the rights of indigenous people are violated.