Wednesday, 12 September 2007

British supermarket chain ASDA bans Malaysian palm oil products

British supermarket chain ASDA bans Malaysian palm oil products
The Star: 4 September 2007
by Stephen Then

MIRI: The boycott of Malaysian palm oil and its by-products by a giant supermarket chain in Britain smacks of discrimination, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui.

The move by the British ASDA chain of supermarkets to ban the sale of Malaysian palm oil and related products from their retail outlets recently was very damaging and may cause similar reaction among other retail chains in Europe, he said.

The ministry has written to the company’s headquarters in Britain seeking an explanation on why it has boycotted Malaysia’s palm oil and yet continue to sell edible oils from Western countries, he told The Star in an interview yesterday.

“We want to know why they have boycotted our palm oil and yet continue selling soya oil and rape-seed oil. We told them that we feel this is a very unfair policy that is discriminatory in nature,” he said.

The boycott was believed to be the result of massive anti-palm oil activities in several parts of Europe. They were propagated by those out to tarnish the image of palm oil and related products.

These parties claim that Malaysian oil palm plantations have resulted in the ‘genocide’ of orang-utans and that the cutting down of forests for these plantations were causing global warming.

Chin had described these claims as lies and two months ago, he went to Europe to meet non-governmental organisations and government leaders to try to counter the anti-palm oil activists.

He said that certain countries, like the Netherlands, had been fair in the way they view the palm oil issue.

“The Netherlands views environmental issues like climate change very seriously. Environment Minister Jacqueline Crammer will be in Malaysia soon to discuss and see for herself the sustainable way we cultivate our oil palm plantations,” he said, adding that the Netherlands imports 1.5 million tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia annually.

Chin hopes that the Netherlands will help to convince other European Union members that any boycott of the country’s palm oil or any related products is unjustified.