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France Considers Palm Oil Paraquat Tax
by Tomas DiFiore
Tuesday Feb 16th, 2016 9:18 PM
The new 'RSPO Next' certification standards for palm oil finally bans the use of Paraquat! There are stockpiles though, of Paraquat left in outbuildings and in warehouses throughout the palm oil industry landscape. It's application and illegal use would endanger worker safety and the environment. There is specific language addressing Paraquat in the progressive tax under consideration in France right now for monitoring and cleanup. French lawmakers Aline Archimbaud and Jean Dessesard (both members of the Greens) recently tabled two amendments to a French Health Law, and perhaps in doing so, are attempting to pass a more Precautionary Principle.
France Considers Palm Oil Paraquat Tax

France has challenged the Best Management Practices (BMP) of the palm oil industry with a progressive tax that appears in synch with the new Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil 'Next' certification criteria. There are several key considerations concerning ending the use of the herbicide Paraquat in the early stages of palm oil plantation development; specifically the immature seedling stage of the oil palm. 'The new RSPO Next' certification standards for palm oil finally bans the use of Paraquat! (02092016)

There are stockpiles though, of Paraquat left in outbuildings and in warehouses throughout the palm oil industry landscape. It's application and illegal use would endanger worker safety and the environment. There is specific language addressing Paraquat in the progressive tax under consideration in France right now for monitoring and cleanup.

See film for Oil Palm Best Management Practices and Paraquat at end of post.

“It is within the French parliament's authority - the government of the French Republic - to adopt Amendment 367.”

But the palm industry has decried that the “Palm oil tax regulated in Amendment Number 367 as adopted by the French Senate on January 21, 2016, is deemed to have breached the principles of World Trade Organization (WTO) and General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) 1994. It would create price discrimination and could be harmful to Indonesia.”

Indonesia's first deputy for maritime sovereignty, Arif Havas Oegroseno has said: "This is a violation of the WTO obligations as well as of GATT 1994 agreement and the European Union market rules. Indonesia has already adopted Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) standard to encourage sustainable and environmental-friendly palm oil production.”

“The tax is also aimed at eradicating dangerous pesticides (paraquuat), claimed to have been used in oil palm plantations across the world. This tax is illogical because the Indonesian government has already carried out efforts to prevent deforestation. Regarding the use of paraquuat pesticide, Havas considered the reason as invalid because the use of the pesticide has long been stopped.” (02022016)

(02092016) “The European Palm Oil Alliance… (EPOA) is concerned about the proposed taxation on palm oil because:
1) The amendment would have a negative impact on cross-industry efforts to ensure a 100 % sustainable palm oil supply chain by 2020, embodied in the December 2015 Amsterdam Declaration under the Dutch presidency of the EU - an initiative supported by the French Government
2) The EU is the second largest importer of Palm Oil in the world, importing 7,300,000 metric tonnes annually (2014)
3) This taxation could cause a potential distortion of the European internal market for oils and fats
4) The risk that once this bill is accepted by France, more EU governments will introduce similar counterproductive trade restrictive measures, that may prove worse for both health and sustainability
5) A massive growth in global demand for fats and oils is anticipated, the projected 35% increase adding up to 250 million tonnes per year by 2050. Many global NGOs, including WWF and Greenpeace, are convinced that Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is the only vegetable oil in the world – from a production capacity, cost and sustainability perspective - that can meet this need.”

Current Participants of the EPOA: Wilmar, Cargill, Sime Darby, more...

“If implemented, the policy could also disrupt the economic stability, considering that palm oil is a strategic sector. The sector has approximately absorbed 16 million workforces in Indonesia. In addition, it has also contributed 1.6 percent to Indonesia’s GDP. Indonesia’s export income of the commodity reaches approximately US$ 19 billion per year.”

Trade Minister Thomas Limbong has stated: "The ratification process of the drafted amendment still has several stages, from the Environment Commission level to the National Assembly level," Thomas said in a statement, noting that the draft bill is scheduled to be decided by France's National Assembly in March.”

"During that time frame, I will continue to communicate and lobby to stakeholders, especially the Ecology fraction, as well as possible. Clearly, the proposed tax would breach the two most important WTO principles: national treatment and non-discrimination.”

Article III:2 of the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) provides that imported products shall not be subject, directly or indirectly, to internal taxes or other internal taxes in excess of those applied, directly or indirectly, to like domestic products. It may be debatable whether the definition of “like domestic products” includes “like products” from other EU member states, or shall be confined to products obtained wholly from non-EU member states.

“However, the main issues remain: The proposed tax will discriminate against palm oil originating in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Nigeria. Members of the WTO may capitalize on Article XX of GATT on general exceptions to adopt measures such as internal taxes deemed necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health. But such measures should not be more trade-restrictive than necessary, and not applied in a manner that would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or disguised restriction on international trade.”

“It is not really clear what is the main rationale for the French Senate to agree to amend the law on biodiversity last month. If the environment is the issue at hand, it is worth mentioning that palm oil requires far less land than other vegetable oil crops (corn, rapeseed, soya and sunflower) to produce the same output of oil, absorbs far more carbon and requires significantly less chemicals and pesticides to grow. The government of Indonesia, in cooperation with industry players, local communities and regional governments, has also embarked on initiatives to educate farmers on healthy and responsible farming.”

Concern Was Expressed From the CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council 02112016

“There is the domestic protectionist European industry, which fears palm oil as a better, cheaper, more efficient alternative: often such companies and organizations will also conduct attacks on palm oil, or work with NGOs and others to spread misinformation through the media.”

“There are the politicians, who are often in league with either the NGOs or the local industry: these are the individuals who promote laws, amendments, discriminatory criteria, that is targeted at palm oil. Often the politicians know very little about the issue, and are simply doing the bidding of others (and hoping for some easy publicity as well).”

“An excellent example of this was seen in France recently where the first amendment called for all products in France containing palm oil to be labeled as palm oil (instead of the more generic term vegetable oil). The justification given was transparency.”

“That might seem sensible and reasonable, except for the fact that this law already exists in France. In fact, it exists throughout the European Union, and has done since December 2014. It was a law knows as the European Food Information to Consumers Regulation.”

But… I do say, in this author's opinion, the original EU labeling law also states:

32) Mandatory origin provisions have been developed on the basis of vertical approaches for instance for honey, fruit and vegetables, fish, beef and beef products and olive oil. There is a need to explore the possibility to extend mandatory origin labeling for other foods. It is therefore appropriate to request the Commission to prepare reports covering the following foods: types of meat other than beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat; milk; milk used as an ingredient in dairy products; meat used as an ingredient; unprocessed foods; single-ingredient products; and ingredients that represent more than 50 percent of a food.

57) Since the objectives of this Regulation cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Regulation does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives.

Under Article 51 “Exercise of the Delegation” it is stated basically that the EU ruling on labeling shall be conferred on the Commission for a period of 5 years after 12 December 2011…

“The power to adopt delegated acts is conferred on the Commission for a period of 5 years after 12 December 2011.”

And with consultation etc. may be changed. View the lengthy
“European Food Information to Consumers Regulation” labeling law here:

So perhaps French lawmakers Aline Archimbaud and Jean Dessesard (both members of the Greens) who recently tabled two amendments to a French Health Law, by doing so, are attempting to pass a more Precautionary Principle.

Only in France… and in Ecuador

“France took the decision, in 2005, to append the Precautionary Principle to its Constitution, heading a list of applicable standards. This very decision was and remains controversial. Elsewhere in the World, only Ecuador went this far.”

“This principle is written into Article 5 of the Environment Charter placed as a preamble to the main Constitutional text, worded as follows: when there is a risk of damage, however uncertain given the latest state of scientific knowledge, of serious and irreversible impact on the environment, public authorities, applying the precautionary principle, will assure, in their respective areas of competence, that the procedures to assess risk and adopt provisional and proportionate measures to counter possible damage are duly applied and enforced.”

“In reverse, the World Trade Organization has manifested a degree of defiance to the precautionary principle. Caution expressed by WTO points to the potential serious economic consequences of increased application of the precautionary principle.”

Again citing WTO, GATT, and past legislative attempts; lawyers with a Perspective on Trade have published a challenging tirade.

In part it states: “The French Senate adopted the amendment on 21 January 2016. The regular procedure provides that the text will now go back to the lower house of the French Parliament, the Assemblée Nationale, which will examine and debate the amendments made by the French Senate and vote on the amendments. Only when the same text, without further amendments, is adopted by both chambers, would the law be put into effect by the President and published in the Official Journal. This amendment revives the controversial and often misinformed debate about palm oil and its impact on the environment and human health.”

“Due to the controversial nature and the misinformed justification of the adopted amendment, a reconsideration of this amendment by the National Assembly is in order.”

It is interesting that the actual January 21, 2016 Amendment 367 can only be challenged under the WTO and GATT. No mention is made of concern for Paraquat.

Meanwhile, Back At The Plantation

Degraded lands (secondary forest, alang alang covered landscapes) – what does it take to convert these landscapes to oil palm plantations under BMP?

Plantation Development 101 discusses soil fertility, planting density, slope gradient factors, indigenous soil nutrients, roads, oil palm planting grids, database mapping of soil structures and nutrients.

BMP - Oil Palm BMP - Immature Plant Management; International Plant Nutrition Institute
Oil Palm BMP – Immature Stage (15 minute video)

“Once the Alang Alang is cleared, 3 rounds of glyphosate are applied. Soil preparation with rock phosphate, and legume planting follows. Lots of NPK. Palm planting circles are then weeded and dug. Oil palm seedlings are transported. Hand weeding of palm circles after seedlings are planted, more NPK and Magnesium, along with 20 months of herbicide application are required.” 25 tons of empty FFB per hectare are also used for fertilizer annually thereafter!

Published on Jul 12, 2012 - “The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) is a not-for-profit, science-based organization dedicated to responsible management of plant nutrition for the benefit of the human family. As a global organization, IPNI has initiatives addressing the world's growing need for food, fuel, fiber, and feed.”

A really well done video of guidelines and Best Management Practices in the field and at all locations. Solidly narrated from the perspective of increasing palm oil production under Best Management Practices or BMP.

Support France and the Palm Oil Paraquat Tax! Talk it up!

The tax is being maligned in the press and Paraquat is never mentioned.

The Roundtable On Sustainable Palm 'Next' (additional voluntary certification) which bans Paraquat, has taken more than 10 years to achieve. It's been a prolonged battle….

“According to industry sources, during the period from 1995 to 2001, palm oil, banana, and tea crops were an important market for Paraquat, with palm oil plantations contributing to 3.9% of total Paraquat sales, banana plantations to 3.1%, and tea estates to 2.5%, all together totaling 9.5% of sales.”

“The RSPO failed to meet the expectations of its members by not identifying safe and cost-effective alternatives to specific hazardous chemicals, such as Paraquat used on Palm plantations, by the scheduled date of November 2007. Instead, they only started working toward this goal one year after that deadline, in January 2008.”

Goodbye To Paraquat: Palm Oil, Banana and Tea Producers Saying No to Hazardous Pesticide
A survey by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) and the Berne Declaration
February 2009 Edited by Alejandra Gochez

“A survey cited in “Why Paraquat Should Be Banned” suggests that 4.9% of those exposed to pesticides (200,865 of the survey sample) suffered a symptomatic episode of pesticide poisoning requiring medical treatment during the period 2000–2001. Paraquat was one of 12 pesticides responsible for the majority of cases. Almost twenty percent of the poisonings reported to the surveillance system of the Costa Rican Ministry of health were caused by paraquat. (Twenty of 26 deaths from pesticides were due to paraquat. With almost no protective equipment, smallholders use paraquat very widely in the country on banana, cocoa, coffee, pineapple, cotton and oil palm plantations. For millions who spray paraquat, often on a daily basis, it is important to recognise that the acute effects can be constant, painful and debilitating.” “Why Paraquat Should Be Banned” 4 pages:

On a healthier, happier note:

Solarzyme - algae butter! Palm Oil Replacement truly deforestation free!
“Algae Butter is a hard fat from a completely new source that we think will be a game changer for industry in terms of sustainability and nutrition in the world of structured fats.”

“The algae butter has a very sharp consistent melting curve that gives the consumer a really enhanced sensory experience, but also delivers from a technical and functional perspective, so confectionery melts in your mouth, not on your hand, and spreads are solid at room temperature but melt after you spread them on toast.”

Saying No To Palm Oil

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§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights- Fair use: Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

If you or anyone wish to use copyrighted material from this article for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tomas DiFiore

France, Palm Oil Tax, Paraquat, Paraquat Tax, Amendment 367, Indonesia, Malaysia, EU labeling law, Palm Oil Paraquat Tax,

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