I found my toddler son straining to lift a pair of four-pound barbells over his head one day—an ambitious feat for a toddler. He had raised them only a few inches off the ground, but his eyes were determined and his face was pink with effort. I offered to help, and together we heaved the weight up toward the ceiling.
That’s how it is for palm oil. Arraigned against it is the European Commission (EC) which had poured in millions of Euros to fund spurious attacks that they are aware are based on manufactured and false evidence. The motive for these campaigns are not to encourage environmentalism in developing countries, but rather, to protect the EU’s own indigenous edible oilseed industries such as rapeseed and sunflower oil, which are hapless and unable to compete against the rampantly hyper yielding palm oil in the open market! Apart from this, green groups like FoE, Greenpeace and RAN collectively have access to funding running into the hundreds of millions of Euros and the palm oil’s supporters have their work cut work to fend off these mercenaries and panic merchants!
Fortunately, for palm oil, the advent of the internet and social media has resulted in the democratization of information, giving the third world crop the ability to fight the smear campaigns funded by the EC just as effectively as they would have if they had the financial resources of the rabble rousers and green EC surrogates!
And so that is how it has panned out in France where a certain Senator Yve Daudigny decided to get into the act and proposed a Bill called the “Nutella Tax” that would increase taxes on palm oil by 300 per cent on the flawed premise that palm oil is high in saturated fats and consequently bad for heart health and that the cultivation of palm oil harms the environment.
The Bill ran into a firestorm of public opinion in which the French public ascribed less than honorable motives to the Bill, suspecting that the Bill was a thinly disguised attempt to tax the working class. The President of the Social Affairs Commission of France’s National Assembly was herself against the measure; . "We're taxing the working class," she quotes Communist senator Annie David as saying. Unsurprisingly, the Social Affairs Commission rejected the Bill.
However, apart from the obvious political ramifications of the Nutella Tax, which could never have passed first base in the National Assembly after clearing the French Senate, considering the widespread use and popularity of the Nutella recipe, which contains 20 per cent palm oil, the allegations against palm oil is clearly built on false premises and “manufactured” evidence!
Tons of scientific studies have shown that palm oil is, in fact heart friendly as the saturated fatty acids in the sn-1 and -3 position (typically found in palm oil) has very different biological consequences than animal fats such as butter and milk fats as the saturated fats are primarily found in the sn-2 position! (Vide: Donald J. McNamara, PhD: “Palm Oil and Heart Health: A case of Manipulated Perception and Misuse of Science” 240S Vol 29 No. 3(s) Journal of the American College of Nutrition)
Palm oil is also the richest source of the heart friendly anti-oxidant tocotrienol, a superior form of Vitamin E as well as other heart friendly phyto-nutrients such as Co Enzyme Q10, betacarotenes and other polyphenols.
Also, the oft repeated allegation that palm oil is responsible for massive deforestation flies in the face of facts, for Malaysia which had erstwhile been the world's largest producer of palm oil has managed to retain 59.5 percent forest cover despite intensive cultivation of palm oil for more than a hundred years! (CIA World Factbook 2011)
Italian civil libertarian group, Libertiamo puts it best: “the real motives are to erect artificial trade barriers against palm oil to protect the EU’s indigenous edible oil industries!” THE END