Malaysian Minister for Primary Industries Teresa Kok has spoken out against UK supermarket Iceland’s controversial TV advert depicting an orangutan telling the story of how her home was destroyed by palm oil cultivation.
The advert, using a Greenpeace animation, was banned from broadcast because it contravened UK advertising codes prohibiting political advertising, but has had millions of views on social media.
“Iceland is one of those entities which find it easier to announce a ban on palm oil products rather than commit to sustainable palm oil and go the full mile in explaining the benefits to its customers,” said Kok in the Star Online on 19 November.
She said Iceland was only removing palm oil from its own in-house products, which may have had poor sales. “It is not prepared to do the same on other more established brands that contain palm oil as part of their formulation.”
According to Kok, Malaysia increasingly subscribed to Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) and had adopted international sustainability standards.
“We have produced higher quantities of CSPO but, sadly, the uptake from British and European entities is far less than previously promised. We find that there is a constant deferment of their commitment dates.”
Malaysia had also mandated certification of all its palm oil supply chain by December 2019 through the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard.
“When the January 2020 Amsterdam Declaration kicks in, all palm oil exports to Britain and Europe will be certified palm oil.”
Kok said these certifications demanded a “no deforestation” principle, adding that Malaysia still maintained 50% forest cover whereas Britain and Europe did not have any similar forest preservation commitments.
She also challenged Iceland for claiming that 25 orangutans died daily because of palm oil production, stating that the statistic was “a blatant lie”.
“Today, the orangutan native to Sabah and Sarawak are fully protected and we have stable population numbers.”