Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
Thursday’s recommendation by the Senate Community Affairs Legislative Committee to reject a bill that requires mandatory labeling of palm oil in food products will mean that Australians are kept in the dark as palm oil continues to be labelled as vegetable oil.

Orangutans are being pushed dangerously close to extinction - predicted within the next 10 years - as widespread deforestation due to palm oil plantations has left them with sparse remaining habitat in Indonesia and Malaysia. It is estimated that an orangutan dies every two hours as land is cleared for further palm oil plantations.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert and Independent senator Nick Xenophon have condemned both major parties for rejecting a move designed to help protect endangered orangutans and wildlife species.

The Australian Orangutan Project and Australian consumers demand that mandatory labeling of palm oil in food products is introduced. Palm oil is the single biggest threat to the orangutan and exists in 50% of supermarket products, yet is masked under a myriad of labels including ‘vegetable oil’.

Whilst some food manufacturers may voluntarily label or even remove palm oil from their products, it is clear that without labeling support by Government policy that most will not.

The palm oil industry does not want Australians to know if they are consuming their product and the Senate Community Affairs Legislative Committee has supported them. Public submissions to the senate consistently argue for the right to know using clear labeling.

“It is unmistakable that Australians want to make informed choices about products containing palm oil. The Australian Orangutan Project calls on the government to heed public support for the bill when it is introduced to parliament this coming Thursday,” says Stephen Leonard, Legal Advisor of the Australian Orangutan Project.

“I find it deeply concerning that the Australian Government seems more interested in doing what the Malaysian palm oil lobby would like, rather than listening to the Australian people."

The orangutan exists as a flagship specifies for many other critically endangered species that live in the same habitat, therefore protecting orangutans means protecting the whole ecosystem of flora and fauna.

“The destruction of rainforest for palm oil plantations is not only the major cause of orangutan decline, but all biodiversity, including Sumatran tigers & elephants and gibbons, as well as the cause of the displacement of vulnerable indigenous communities,” says Troy Kenah, Vice President of the Australian Orangutan Project.

The Australian Orangutan Project urges the public to speak out in favour of the Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling - Palm Oil) Bill 2010, and contact their local MP http://www.aph.gov.au.

Available for interview:
Stephen Leonard | Leif Cocks |Troy Kenah


Contact Profile

Australian Orangutan Project

The Australian Orangutan Project is a not-for-profit organisation, supporting orangutan conservation, rainforest protection and reintroduction of orphans in order to save the species from extinction. AOP collaborates with several orangutan conservation projects, as well as providing habitat protection through its own Safeguard project – guard patrols that deter wildlife poaching, illegal logging and land clearing in Borneo and Sumatra. www.orangutan.org.au
Kate Richards
P: 0404892782
W: www.orangutan.org.au


palm oil, Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling - Palm Oil) Bill 2010, Nick Xenophon, Rachel Siewert



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