Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Total says no impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations

Total says no impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations

"We are only blocking Total's fuel trucks that want to get in or out".

Christiane Lambert, president of farmers' union FNSEA, said the blockades were meant to pressure the government over recent trade agreements that would allow imports of meat, sugar, and ethanol from countries "that do not respect the same conditions of production as French products".

Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert on Monday denounced as "illegal" the farmers' blockades of oil refineries to oppose the government decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil at a biofuel plant.

"This blockade can not be the solution", the minister told RTL radio, adding that "this blockade is illegal".

The organisers say the blockade, which is scheduled to run for three days initially, is aimed at putting pressure on the government to curb the use of palm oil at La Mede, and to address other grievances such as imports of South American meat. This blockade is illegal.

The minister called on angry protesters to join talks to find "adequate solutions".

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The company stressed though that no more than 50 percent of raw material used at the facility would be imported palm oil, and that all suppliers were certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

French authorities last month gave Total permission to use palm oil as one of the feedstocks at its La Mede biofuel refinery in southern France, infuriating farmers who grow local oilseed crops such as rapeseed and environmentalists who blame palm oil cultivation for deforestation in south-east Asia.

Total's initiative to import palm oil for its biofuel plant was just "the last straw", the representative added.

"We will commit at European Union level to cap, to freeze. based on the total 2017 volumes, the volume of imported (palm) oil to reduce it gradually in the coming years", French junior ecology minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Europe 1 radio.

Contrastingly, Malaysian officials have warned of possible trade repercussions that could affect a French fighter jet deal.

"This proposal is a betrayal of promises made by the French Government, and others in Europe, to the people of Malaysia", they said in a statement sent by Faces of Palm Oil lobby group.

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