More than 85% of Malaysian palm oil plantations are now MSPO certified as meeting stringent sustainability standards. Malaysian officials are now asking why other significantly less sustainable edible oils aren’t scrutinized nearly as much as palm oil. 

Palm oil is the most consumed among the 17 edible oils worldwide and is, “The only vegetable crop among these that has gone through stringent certification processes, either voluntary or mandatory,” stated Malaysian Palm Oil Council CEO Datuk Dr. Kalyana Sundram. 

As reported by FoodNavigator-Asia reporter Pearly Neo, “The palm oil sector is demanding fair and equal treatment after years of being subjected to ‘unjust’ treatment and criticism, despite ‘doing more for sustainability’ compared to other edible oils in the industry.” 

“We are seeing a continuous shifting of sustainability goal posts [to become ever stricter], which has to stop. It is making things very difficult for the growers and the industry – palm oil is the first oil crop in the world with a sustainable certification scheme, [but continuous changes in sustainability criteria] is turning this into a major challenge instead,” Datuk Sundram said. 

While other edible oils often escape scrutiny, Datuk Sundram cites unfair penalties, trade barriers and deforestation demands targeting the palm oil industry. “Research has shown that palm oil contributes to only 2.3% of global deforestation, meaning that palm oil as a crop is not the biggest driver of deforestation, [but is continuously being singled out for criticism,” he said. “59% of palm oil companies have at least one commitment to deforestation, showing that we are working towards sustainable outcomes. But for [industries such as] soy and cattle, the proportion of companies with commitments is considerably lower (21% and 12%, respectively).”

He stated. “We ask and demand equal treatment, that all other remaining oils and fats, no matter where they are produced, must also demonstrate similar and robust certification systems – the world needs [a playing field] where all oils and fats produced for the world market are similarly certified to the stringency that palm oil is now.” 

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