Orangutans will be extinct in 20 years – NSW Minister Niall Blair can help save them today

In Parliament | 25.11.16

The NSW Labor Opposition is urging Minister Niall Blair to support the introduction of labelling of food products that contain palm oil at the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation meeting being held in Canberra today.

Orangutans are on track to extinction within 20 years unless the rate of unsustainable deforestation is reversed. There are less than 7,300 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild. In Borneo the population is estimated to be less than 45,000. It is estimated that over 1,000 orangutans are being killed every year due to deforestation.

In Australia, labelling laws allow palm oil to be labelled as vegetable oil, and as a result consumers have no idea whether palm oil in a product is coming from a sustainable source.

The proposal before the Ministerial Forum today will provide for better labelling that identifies whether the palm oil in a product is produced after rainforest is removed or whether it is Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, which is produced without removing rainforest or harming wildlife.

The change involves the specific labelling of all oils, as is the case in the European Union, Canada, and the United States.

Clearer labelling of food products is backed by the Australian community, with recent polling showing that 85% of Australians support it so they can make more informed decisions about their purchases.

The community campaign run by Zoos Victoria has generated over 18,000 emails and 250,000 signatures on postcards and petitions urging ministers to support clearer labelling.

Clearer labelling of oils in food products was recommended to the Ministerial Forum in 2011, and after five years of consideration it is at this meeting today that the Ministers will decide whether this recommendation will be adopted.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe MLC

“Today the Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, can make a decision that will help Australian consumers fight the extinction of critically endangered orangutans.

“The clock is ticking on the amazing animal that is the orangutan. With less than 50,000 left in the wild the time for prevaricating is over.

“The Ministers today can do their bit to help save them. I urge Minister Blair to support this change today.”