Malaysian palm oil claims challenged

Malaysian palm oil claims challenged

Penang (Malaysia) / Brussels (Belgium), October 7, 2008

Friends of the Earth Challenges ‘Green’ Claims of Malaysian Palm Oil

Malaysian palm oil exported for use in food, biofuels and cosmetics is far from ‘green’ - contrary to claims by Malaysian palm oil producers - shows the new report “Malaysian Palm Oil: Green Gold or Green Wash?” released today (October 7) by Friends of the Earth groups.

The 70-page long report examines the case of the vast Malaysian State of Sarawak, which is developing large-scale plantations at breath-taking speed having overexploited its timber resources and depleted its forests.

“This report exposes the misleading claim of the Malaysian palm oil lobby that its palm oil is sustainable. Earlier this year the British advertising watchdog ruled that Malaysian palm oil ads claiming that the oil is sustainable were misleading the public. It is high time for Europe to limit its demand for palm oil products and halt the use of edible oils for energy use,” said Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth International Corporates Campaigner.

Sarawak plans to more than double its 2007 levels of oil palm acreage by 2010, taking it to a total of 1.3 million hectares.

“An acceptance of Malaysia’s palm oil claims will legitimise further tropical deforestation, human rights violations against indigenous peoples and the suppression of public participation in government decision making,” said Friends of the Earth International chair Meena Raman. Meena Raman, who is also SAM / Friends of the Earth Malaysia Honorary Secretary, has been barred from entering Sarawak since 1994.

The main findings of the report include:

1. Oil palm plantations are being expanded at the expense of tropical forests, contrary to claims by the Malaysian palm oil lobby.

2. The ‘carbon debt’ of palm oil is huge when the plantation is developed on peat soils and/or at the expense of forests.

3. In Sarawak plantation companies regularly practice open burning to clear land for planting, even on peat soils, contributing to regional air pollution (haze) and to the faster release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

4. Virgin forests promised to the Penan indigenous communities of Sarawak have never materialised, contrary to the claims of the Malaysian palm oil lobby.

The executive summary of the report is available online at

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