IATE Term of the Week: Palm oil

April 7, 2017 10:35 am

This week the European Parliament voted its first resolution on palm oil, calling for urgent action against deforestation and habitat degradation caused by unsustainable palm oil production and advocating in favour of a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market. For this reason, the IATE Term of the Week that we present today is palm oil.

Palm oil 1

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines palm oil as an edible fat obtained from the flesh of the fruit of several palms and used especially in soap and lubricating greases. The palm oil being discussed at EP level is that extracted from oil palms and is used in the food industry to produce, among others, chocolate, biscuits, ice cream, pizza or margarine, but it is also used in the production of detergent, shampoo, cosmetics and biodiesel. The use of palm oil has rocketed in the last 30 years, the European Union being one of its greatest consumers. Up to one million hectares of tropical land are required to produce the necessary amount of palm oil that is used to make biofuels in the EU, which accounts for 46% of the overall imports of this product.

palm-oil-2The uncontrolled production of palm oil is threatening jungles, since indigenous plants are being removed and replaced by palm plantations. Unique tropical ecosystems are experiencing increasing pressure from deforestation, which also leads to other harmful events such as soil erosion, loss of ground-waters, forest fires, the destruction of rare natural habitats and the threat to already endangered species like Bornean orangutan, Sumatran tigers or Sumatran rhinos. Furthermore, other related problems arise from producing unsustainable palm oil, such as high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, land conflicts and even the use of child labour. Given such negative impact of unsustainable palm oil production, the new EP resolution calls on the Commission to phase out the use of vegetable oils that cause deforestation, including palm oil, as a component of biofuels by 2020 and to use a common certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU that allows traceability and accounts for its socially responsible origin.

Here you can see the entry for palm oil in IATE:

IATE Palm Oil

Contribute to IATE! Update this term in your language. A terminologist for the respective language will revise your answer and decide whether to validate them. Given the implications of the process, a delay is to be expected.

GIMP_IATE_term_of_the_week_Palm Oil

We also suggest that you check some previous IATE Terms of the Week that relate to this topic:

Spread the term so we can join the sustainability discourse using adequate terminology!

Written by Doris Fernandes del Pozo – Journalist, Translator-Interpreter and Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. She is pursuing a PhD as part of the Communication and Contemporary Information Programme of the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain)


  • EP News (2017) “Palm oil: the high cost of cultivating the cheap vegetable oil”, Press Releases. Available at: http://bit.ly/2mnjePk (Accessed 06 April, 2017)
  • EP News (2017) “MEPs call for clampdown on imports of unsustainable palm oil and use in biofuel”, Press Releases. Available at: http://bit.ly/2o1IpJI (Accessed 06 April, 2017)
  • European Parliament (2017) Palm oil and deforestation of rainforests. European Parliament resolution of 4 April 2017 on palm oil and deforestation of rainforests (2016/2222(INI)). Available at: http://bit.ly/2ngRzER (Accessed 06 April, 2017)
  • FAO (n.d.) Palm oil processing. Available at: http://bit.ly/2p5IZFA (Accessed 06 April, 2017)
  • WWF (n.d.) Which Everyday Products Contain Palm Oil? Available at: http://wwf.to/2ngX8U9 (Accessed 06 April, 2017)

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