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Ivory Coast Palm Oil Growers Defend Crop Amid France Tax Plan

Ivory Coast’s palm-oil industry protested a French proposal to raise taxation of the food ingredient fourfold, saying the oil crop is the victim of a “powerful disinformation campaign.”

Palm oil is rich in carotene and vitamin E, and is consumed in Africa and Asia “without any trouble,” industry group AIPH wrote in an e-mailed statement today. Palm oil production requires less land than soybean oil or rapeseed oil, and Ivory Coast doesn’t clear forest to grow the crop, it said.

The French plan to increase tax on palm oil by 300 percent was proposed by the Senate’s social-affairs committee last week as an amendment to France’s 2013 social-security budget legislation. The proposed law will be the subject of a vote by the lower chamber of parliament next month, and the amendment may be included.

“In Ivory Coast, palm oil production provides the livelihood of 2 million people, that is 10 percent of the population,” AIPH wrote. “One precision: there are no orangutans in Africa.”

Greenpeace has said palm-oil expansion in Indonesia is destroying the habitat of Sumatran tigers and orangutans.

Palm oil is rich in saturated fats, and is used to make margarine and as frying oil, according to the Senate committee. The oil contains 50 percent saturated fats, compared with 65 percent for butter, according to the AIPH.

“No scientific study has ever demonstrated that palm oil is harmful to health,” the group wrote.

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