Palm oil has come under attack in Italy – as it has elsewhere – for its links with deforestation in Southeast Asia, loss of habitats and biodiversity, and high levels of saturated fat. Politicians and NGOs, such as Il Fatto Alimentare, have spearheaded anti-palm oil sentiment.
However, Nuovo Centrodestra MP Dorina Bianchi, who put forward one of the resolutions, claims that the oil has been the focus of a political and media-driven smear campaign which is pushing companies to substitute palm oil with less environmentally friendly, lower yielding vegetable oils.
Commenting on the resolution, she said in a statement in Italian: “Palm oil is a raw material of fundamental importance for Italian industry, in particular for the food sector.”
She outlined the contribution palm oil makes to the Italian economy and said that anti-palm oil sentiment was harmful to the reputation of countries like Malaysia, which has committed to preserving at least half of its land under forest cover. Anti-palm oil campaigners were “preventing the poorest regions to develop and market their products”, she said.
The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), which promotes sustainable palm oil production and use, welcomed the resolutions from Bianchi and from Scelta Civica MPs Giovanni Monchiero, Pierpaolo Vargiu and Ilaria Capua.
"Politicians have a great responsibility to defend scientific truth and adopt the best policies in protecting consumer health" said MPOC CEO Dr Yusof Basiron.
"The MPOC calls on the Italian Government to support the efforts of MP Bianchi and to denounce the anti-palm oil campaign. Italy is good friend of Malaysia, and our two countries benefit from strong and growing trade links. It is a shame that some Italian MPs and NGOs are undermining this relationship."
According to MPOC figures, the Malaysian palm oil industry employs more than 570,000 people, and another 290,000 are employed in downstream industries.