Friday, 14 August 2009

New Zealand contributes to rainforest destruction and killing of orangutans.

The letter below was received by a supporter in reply to her questions concerning the use of palm kernel for cattle feed in New Zealand. The reply is a pathetic effort to excuse the use of palm kernel to feed cows. Further questions have been raised.

Make no mistake, New Zealand, of all countries, is a big contributor to deforestation and killing of orangutans.


Dear ,

Thank you very much for your email to the High Commissioner, Derek Leask, on the subject of palm kernel. The High Commissioner has asked me to respond to your email on his behalf.

As you point out, New Zealand is an importer of palm kernel expeller. As you will likely be aware, New Zealand agriculture is primarily pastoral based. As such, supplementary feed, including palm kernel expeller, is a relatively small component of overall feed for dairy cows in New Zealand. Unlike Europe, purchased feed for New Zealand dairy farms is, approximately, only about 8-12 percent of total feed used in a standard year. Notably, palm kernel expeller is one of several kinds of feed supplements (including molasses and tapioca) that is added by New Zealand farmers to the feed system for dairy cows.

Supplement, such as palm kernel expeller, is often used in situations such as droughts to ensure dairy cows are receiving a sufficient level of nutrients in their diet.

The New Zealand Government is very aware of the issues that you have pointed out in your email, in particular with regard to deforestation issues. We are also actively involved in international negotiations to mitigate illegal logging practices. These are issues of real concern to the New Zealand Government and continue to be the focus of ongoing attention and analysis. In this respect, it is notable, that palm kernel expeller is a by-product of the mechanical extraction of palm oil. There is an increasing push in New Zealand (led by consumers) to ensure that we, as a nation, purchase from increasingly sustainable sources.

New Zealand has several processes underway to address consumer sustainability concerns and provide guidance. One such example is the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), which is currently developing voluntary biofuels sustainability reporting for New Zealand, which will be released at the end of 2009. This offers a voluntary route that places commercial pressure on distributors to demonstrate biofuel sustainability, while the public reporting process offers transparent sustainability information for consumers.

New Zealand officials are also participating in the development of international standards around issues such as GHG footprinting of products and the ISO sustainability standard for biofuels. New Zealand's approach has been to work cooperatively and in partnership with industry and research institutes to reach agreed, practical and transparent sustainability guidelines and processes that will be effective, and informative for consumers.

I hope that this explanation goes some way to alleviating your concerns around New Zealand's use of palm kernel. If you wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me. My contact details are listed below.

Kind regards,

Justine Arroll

Foreign Policy Analyst

New Zealand High Commission

New Zealand House

80 Haymarket

London SW1Y 4TQ

020 7316 8978