31 March 1999
Malaysia plans GM palm oil

MALAYSIA is playing with the genetic structure of the oil palm in a bid to carve out a share of the worlds fats and oils market, reports the Financial Times.

Scientists at the state-run Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia (PORIM) is genetically modifying the oil palm.

They want to produce more oleic acid in order to create more palm olein – the type of refined palm oil purchased by key buyers such as India and China.

PORIM hopes to raise the oleic acid content from 39% to more than 80%. But commercial production will still take at least five years.

Palm oil is also being modified to produce more stearic acid for use as cocoa butter substitute in chocolate and personal care products including, shaving cream and rubbing oils.

PORIM is also working with scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US to produce bio-degradable plastic.

  • Financial Times 31/03/99 page 36