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Rainforests die for NZ Dairy Farms
Dairy farmers have been implicated in a new palm oil scandal after revelations that last year the national herd ate one-quarter of the world's palm kernel stock food supply.
More than one million tonnes of palm kernel expeller (PKE) was imported last year, mostly from Indonesia and Malaysia, where environmental groups are concerned at the palm industry's role in the loss of tropical rainforest and destruction of tiger and orang-utan habitat.
An international body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, has been set up to ensure sustainable supply of palm product, but secretary-general Dr Vengeta Rao said last week that "very little" of what entered New Zealand would have been certified.
His comment follows Cadbury's decision to back down on plans to introduce palm oil to its Dairy Milk chocolate, after a public outcry.
PKE is created when palm fruit is crushed and processed to produce palm kernel oil. Based on figures provided by the roundtable, a maximum 330,000 tonnes of PKE on the global market since last August could be considered certified. This country imported 1,104,387 tonnes, putting our consumption rates second only to the combined 27 countries of the European Union.
Two weeks ago, the Sunday Star-Times travelled to Indonesia with Greenpeace communications manager Suzette Jackson and Waitakaruru farmer Max Purnell to see, first hand, the impact of this trade that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says has increased one thousand-fold since 2000.
We spoke to community leaders who said they had been jailed in their fight to keep land from palm companies, and conservationists who feared for the future of animals such as the Sumatran orang-utan.
"Not only is this trade damaging to the environment on the ground here, it's also really damaging to how we are trying to portray ourselves internationally, as a country that does care, that does give a damn, and wants to live up to what we trade on our clean, green identity," said Jackson.
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