5 Jul 2010

Palm oil campaign based on 'dodgy facts'

4:29 pm on 5 July 2010

A trade expert in Australia says zoos in New Zealand and Australia are running campaigns against palm oil based on dodgy facts.

In November last year, Auckland Zoo and a number of Australian zoos asked Food Standards Australia New Zealand to label palm oil in food products.

The zoos claim the growth of palm oil plantations in South-east Asia is destroying rainforest and driving the orangutan, Sumatran tiger and Asian elephant to extinction.

But the Intellectual Property & Free Trade Unit at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne says a recent report shows that eight of the 12 anti-palm oil claims are false.

Deforestation claim 'rubbish'

Director Tim Wilson says a claim by Auckland Zoo that 300 rugby fields are deforested every hour in South-east Asia for palm oil production is just rubbish.

That claim, he says, is based on a Greenpeace report which misrepresented United Nations data that looked specifically at the amount of illegal logging in Indonesia - not at palm oil production in South-east Asia as a whole.

Mr Wilson says the zoo also claims that palm oil production costs the lives of more than 100 orangutans each week, but that figure can't be substantiated, he says, and is different to claims made by zoos in Victoria and Western Australia.