French minister says farmers' blockade of refineries, depots illegal: RTL radio

French farmers block refineries fuel depots over palm oil imports

At least five sites will be blocked Sunday evening, with a total 13 sites blocked by 9 a.m. Monday, Lambert said.

France's farm minister said on Monday that a decision by farmers to launch a blockade of oil refineries and fuel depots to protest a government decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil at a biofuel plant was illegal. "Not the staff, nor other vehicles, nor help", Guerinot told the press.

The organisers say the blockade, to run for three days initially, is aimed at pressuring the government to curb palm oil use at La Mede and to address other grievances like imports of South American meat: "Our target is the state", Lambert said, adding that Total's decision on palm oil was "the last straw". This blockade is illegal.

Last month, authorities gave Total permission to use palm oil as a feedstock.

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

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French farmers are infuriated because they want biofuel producers to use local oilseed crops such as rapeseed. They have joined environmentalists in their call to ban palm oil cultivation as it would lead to deforestation in southeast Asia, where most of the world's palm oil is being produced.

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.

He also denied the possibility of reverting the authorization given to Total to import palm oil, although he agreed to receive the guild representatives tomorrow.

The issue of palm oil use has caused friction with Indonesia and Malaysia, the two largest palm oil producers, with Malaysian officials warning of trade repercussions that could affect a potential deal to buy French fighter jets.

Besides a ban on palm oil imports, she wants the government to outlaw agriculture imports produced using fertilisers, herbicides and other products prohibited in the European Union as part of an agriculture law that will be debated in the Senate starting June 26.

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