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Belgium advertising watchdog bans 'sustainable palm oil' advert as misleading

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 05, 2011 10:29 AM

Brussels, July 5, 2011 - A ruling by the Belgium advertising watchdog has banned an advert by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) because it makes false claims that the production of palm oil is ‘sustainable’.

The decision by the Jury d'Ethique Publicitaire (JEP) follows two earlier rulings in the UK on previous MPOC advertising campaigns. This is a major upset to the palm oil industry which is attempting to convince policy makers to allow palm oil as a biofuel in the EU.


Following a complaint by Friends of the Earth Europe, the Belgian watchdog has ruled that palm oil does have impacts on the environment and therefore the claim that it is sustainable is in breach of its environmental advertising code [1]. The advert should be changed or withdrawn.


Friends of the Earth Europe corporate campaigner, Paul de Clerck, said:


“The JEP is right to ban this misleading advert by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council. It is a lie to advertise palm oil as sustainably produced – palm oil destroys forests and peat soils, forces local communities off their land and leads to increased carbon emissions. The decision raises serious questions about the credibility of the Malaysian palm oil industry. It is the third time they have been ordered to stop misleading the European public but they continue to ignore these rulings and spread false information. The European Union must take note and stop the use of palm oil as a biofuel.”


MPOC represents the Malaysian palm oil industry. It is promoting palm oil as a sustainable product to the European Commission and European Parliament and national governments in Europe. Part of its lobby  strategy is to publish adverts in top European newspapers and on websites. This is now the third time that MPOC’s claim that palm oil is sustainable has been considered to be misleading by European advertising 

watchdogs [2].


MPOC is currently in the process of establishing a European Palm Oil Council to promote palm oil towards the EU.


Further information

To find out more about this complaint visit the Friends of the Earth Europe website

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