The increasing use of palm oil is having a damaging effect on a number of animals and natural habitats. The largest producers of palm oil are Indonesia and Malaysia and it is estimated that 98% of rainforests in these countries could disappear by 2030. The palm oil industry is also one of the major threats to orangutan populations, whose numbers have declined significantly over the last century.
I therefore believe that we need to work with a range of stakeholders including supermarkets, producing countries and food manufacturers to establish sensible, long-term solutions.
One of the most important aspects of this will need to be general measures to tackle deforestation. The last Labour Government allocated £300 million to multinational schemes which worked to reduce the speed and impact of deforestation. I believe that the current Government needs to continue working on a multilateral basis to help stop deforestation.
I think it is important for business to acknowledge and address their responsibility for tackling these challenges but there also has to be a role for Government and regulation, particularly at a European level.
I am therefore pleased that Labour Members in the European Parliament have been working to ensure that it is a requirement for all products that contain palm oil to be clearly labelled. I believe that it is important that consumers are able to see where and how a product has been made and this increased transparency can help promote sustainable production.
I will be sure to follow this matter closely during my time in Parliament. Thank you once again for getting in touch and for sharing your views, and feel free to contact me again if there is anything else you would like to raise with me or get my view on.