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Malaysia On Palmoil Charm Offensive In Europe

Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) June 06, 2007
Malaysia, a leading palm oil producer, sought Wednesday to dispel concerns in Europe that palm oil plantations endanger tropical forests. Malaysia and Indonesia are leading a campaign to fight environmentalist claims that the plantations destroy vast swathes of tropical forest, pushing endangered animals like the orangutan towards extinction.

After describing such claims as "disinformation" last month, Malaysian Plantations Minister Peter Chin tried to strike a softer tone in Brussels, where he was leading a delegation that also included industry executives.

"The palm oil industry is facing issues raised by NGOs ranging from the destruction of the rainforest and loss of biodiversity to land clearance for agricultural purposes," he acknowledged.

"We have learned many lessons about maintaining biodiversity and the balance between the needs of man and the needs of the environment, but we recognise that there is still more we can do," Chin added.

Chin's delegation was to meet with EU Farm Commissioner Mariann Fischer-Boel as well as other high level officials during its two-day visit to Brussels before heading to the Netherlands and Britain.

Ahead of the trip to Europe, Chin said the activists' claims were damaging demand for crude palm oil in Europe, which is looking to bio-fuels to help the environment.

Demand for such ecofriendly fuels are set to boom in Europe in the coming years after EU leaders agreed in March that bio-fuels, made from plants, should make up 10 percent of total vehicle fuel in the 27-nation bloc by 2020.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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