French junior ecology minister said on June 11, as farmers blocked refineries across the country in protest against use of the vegetable oil in biofuels, that France will commit at European Union level to freeze the use of palm oil.

“We will commit at EU level to cap, to freeze… based on the total 2017 volumes, the volume of imported (palm) oil to reduce it gradually in the coming years,” said the minister, Sebastien Lecornu, on Europe 1 radio.

The move is aimed at reducing the use of palm oil blamed for causing deforestation in southeast Asia, he said.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, French farmers had blocked access to oil depots and at least three refineries using tonnes of onions, wood and rubble on June 11. This was part of a three-day protest over plans to allow Total to use palm oil at a biofuel plant.

Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil as a feedstock for biodiesel. French farmers say its growing use has added to their competitive disadvantage because of high taxes and strict environmental regulations in France.