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Companies in Europe are trying to manipulate labeling laws  in a blatant effort to discriminate against just one commodity , palm oil.  The no palm oil labels are a clear discriminatory measure against palm oil.

Indeed if nutritional  concerns are the main  reason to promote the labels , then manufactures should be promoting the many beneficial effects of palm oil consumption.  This  measure of carrying  negative labels are clearly penalizing Malaysian palm oil as it turns away consumers from using products that contain healthy palm oil therefore  putting pressure on industries from the developing world to compete fairly .

Campaigns and labels that target palm oil are actually attacks on the development strategies of  producer countries  and it clearly  ignores  the global demand that palm oil enjoys which satisfies many consumers.

At a time when there is a global increase in population (the UN expects 2.4 billion more people by 2050) , it is imperative that the use of palm oil be encouraged through open trade  or else such labels can be viewed as policies encouraged by governments to distort trade in favour of protecting domestic producers from foreign competition.  This is certainly against the spirit of open trade.

Malaysia is committed to raising living standards and providing jobs and educational opportunities for all their people.  The livelihood and future of millions of men and women depend on the oil palm sector  while many million more consumers  across the globe have come to depend on safe, reliable and affordable palm based products. Is palm oil being unfairly targeted  due to its competitive advantages and a desire by  parties with vested interest to stop economic development in the developing world?

small-farmers-palm-oilSince the introduction of oil palm in Malaysia,  it has become a symbol of opportunity for millions of  Malaysian farmers.  Small farmers form an important component of the oil palm industry.  It is a known fact that the oil palm industry has contributed immensely towards raising the income levels of the rural and agricultural  sectors.  Activist opposed to palm oil often overlook  an important fact that without oil palm development, poverty alleviation would be significantly less sustainable.

The labels are a threat to many small farmers who are committed to sustainability and growth , without which they will be shut away in perpetual poverty.  Surely these people deserve an equal or better livelihood just as others do so that they can enjoy a more prosperous future.

 

Belvinder Sron is the Director of Promotion & Branding at MPOC. She can be contacted at bel@mpoc.org.my

 

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