Linda Riordan MP joins Friends of the Earth appeal to supermarkets: Don't wipe out Orangutans

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Calderdale Friends of the Earth will be speaking to the managers of all the major supermarket chains this Saturday 29th October with a stark message: 'You may not realise it, but many of the goods you all sell are responsible for pushing the Orangutan towards the verge of extinction'.

  • 9.45 Morrisons
    at Rochdale Road Todmorden
  • 11.00 Tesco at King Cross, Halifax
  • around 12.15 Asda
    at Thrum Hall Lane, Halifax
  • around 1.30-2 Sainsburys
    in Wade Street Halifax

And in a gesture of support, Linda Riordan MP for Halifax will join Friend of the Earth at 11.15 at Tesco, King Cross to show her sympathy for this important cause.

The much-loved apes are at risk because rainforests in South East Asia are being destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations. Palm oil is a vegetable oil found in one in ten supermarket products.

Friends of the Earth wrote to all the national supermarkets at the beginning of 2005 and asked them to trace their palm oil and adopt minimum production standards. So far Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco have all refused. Their failure to act means that shoppers in their stores are unwittingly contributing to rainforest destruction and the extinction of Asia's only great ape.

Anthony Rae, coordinator of Calderdale Friends of the Earth said: “Palm oil is threatening the survival of the orangutan, but these companies are refusing to do anything about it. Customers don't want to buy products linked to rainforest destruction or species extinction. On Saturday we will be telling them and store managers about the connection between orangutan extinction and what's on the shelves of their local supermarket.”

“We want supermarkets to find ways of sourcing palm oil that do not destroy precious rainforest, and we want the UK Government to act to stop British companies profiting from the destruction of the environment overseas."

FOE Campaigners will also be asking shoppers to call on local MPs Chris McCafferty and Linda Riordan to support new legislation that would help stop UK supermarkets buying products from destructive sources.

The biggest threat to the orangutan is the destruction of their forest habitat to make way for palm oil plantations. Recent research published by Friends of the Earth shows that almost 90 per cent of orangutan habitat had now disappeared, with the orangutan population falling by 50 per cent in the last 15 years. If current trends continue the orangutan will be extinct within 12 years. Ninety percent of the world's palm oil exports come from plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia, the home of the orangutan.

MP's in the UK have the chance to stop UK companies acting so destructively when they introduce new legislation to regulate company behaviour later this year. The Company Law Reform Bill is now passing through Parliament. This is the biggest shake up of company law in a generation. Company directors are only required by the draft bill to 'consider' their impacts on the environment. Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to ensure company directors have to minimise destructive impacts and not just think about it.

Friends of the Earth Report


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