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foei victory in bid to halt misleading palm oil ads

When the Malaysian Palm Oil Council put out a television advertisement making claims about its "sustainable" palm oil, Friends of the Earth International knew it had to take action. The truth is that palm oil plantations in Malaysia and the wider region are responsible for massive forest destruction, carbon dioxide emissions, and broad environmental and social ills.

foei victory in bid to halt misleading palm oil adsThe images and text of the television ad portray Malaysian palm oil as green and environmentally friendly, using statements such as "a gift from nature, a gift for life" and "helping the planet breathe", as well as images of oil palm trees and tropical rainforests. In particular, the final sentence "sustainably produced since 1917" is clearly misleading - the consumer is likely to take from the term that palm oil is produced without harming the environment in any way. The footage in the advertisement, by hinting that palm oil production does not harm trees or contribute to deforestation, also misleads the consumer into believing palm oil is "sustainably produced".

Making its official complaint to the UK Advertising Standards Agency, FoEI stated that it strenuously opposes the palm oil council’s reference to so-called "sustainable" palm oil. On January 9, 2008, FoEI’s complaint was fully upheld, as the UK ad watchdog agreed there was no evidence to support the Council's claim that palm oil is sustainably produced. The watchdog further deemed the adverts to be misleading, and stated they should not be broadcast again.

More information:
- about the ad here
- See a video FoEI video about the ills of palm oil plantations here


photo credit: myrthe verweij


with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry for the environment (vrom)


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