Will oil palm plantations in Malaysia stay forever?


WILL oil palm plantations be a thing of the past? Will the global demand for palm oil be met by oil and its derivatives grown in laboratory bioreactors?

This looks like what the future will take us to. There are already start-ups embracing synthetic biology where microbes will convert food waste and industrial by-products into synthetic palm oil.

As the global palm oil market reaches almost USD93 billion in 2021, this sounds like a sustainable alternative.

With USD20 million from Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and Richard Branson, Breakthrough Energy Ventures is supporting the initiatives of C16 Biosciences, a three-year old start-up that uses yeast to produce 10kg of synthetic palm oil each week.

They are expecting to increase this to 10,000kg with the new funding.

I feel this raises a lot of questions to Malaysian oil palm players and if we are not waking up to this call, it might cost us a hefty price. Who knows palm oil better than us? Why aren’t we exploring alternative technologies, especially when the entire world is moving towards future foods and sustainable and gene technologies?