Olive Oil Production Gives Back to Environment More than it Takes

The latest research indicates that the carbon sink effect from olive trees in the biomass and soil is much higher than greenhouse gas emissions from production.

Jul. 8, 2016
By Wendy Logan

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The sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of sci­en­tific stud­ies that have found pow­er­ful links between extra vir­gin olive oil and human health keep on com­ing, and the International Olive Council’s (IOC) June 2016 newslet­ter reports another excit­ing win-win, this time for the environment. 

Our mes­sage could be that olive oil is both healthy and good for the envi­ron­ment.- International Olive Council

The lat­est research indi­cates that olive oil pro­duc­tion as a whole gives back to the ecosys­tem more than it takes. We now have evi­dence that when the appro­pri­ate agri­cul­tural prac­tices are adopted, the car­bon sink effect (or car­bon seques­tra­tion) from olive trees in the bio­mass and soil is much higher than the green­house gas emis­sions from the pro­duc­tion of one unit (one liter of vir­gin olive oil or extra vir­gin olive oil),” the report states. 

Council mem­bers plan to cre­ate a pro­posal for a con­fer­ence on the car­bon sink effect of olive trees to be pre­sented at COP22, a United Nations con­fer­ence ded­i­cated to cli­mate change to be held in Marrakech in November.

That pro­tec­tion of this crop and con­sump­tion of its oil is a pos­i­tive for the envi­ron­ment makes their very exis­tence an ally in the fight against cli­mate change. It’s pre­cisely the mes­sage the IOC wishes to share,” the IOC said. Our mes­sage could be that olive oil is both healthy and good for the environment.’”

The pro­posal will be drafted at the IOC’s upcom­ing meet­ing in Hammamet, Tunisia. The 27th extra­or­di­nary meet­ing begins July 11. 

The coun­cil praised Tunisia as an active and valu­able found­ing mem­ber of the IOC, con­tribut­ing to research and devel­op­ment in the field of olive oil chem­istry for 60 years. Tunisia, along with Belgium, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom is a sig­na­tory of the first International Olive Oil Agreement, drafted in 1959. 

Olive groves in Takrouna, Tunisia

Today, the coun­try boasts the sec­ond-largest olive-grow­ing area in the world after Spain, with some 800 mil­lion olive trees account­ing for a full six­teen per­cent of world olive acreage.

Olive grow­ing is one of Tunisia’s main agri­cul­tural activ­i­ties. It plays a fun­da­men­tal social and eco­nomic role, given that sixty per­cent of the country’s farm­ers work in this area and draw all or part of their rev­enues from it,” the newslet­ter stated, also not­ing that the coun­try is the sec­ond-largest exporter world­wide after the European Union. 

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