PETALING JAYA - Some 300,000 palm oil smallholders want the Belgian Government to intervene and stop the anti-palm oil movement by several major supermarkets there.
"Some major Belgian supermarkets have launched a campaign that will hurt the small farmers of Malaysia," said National Association of Smallholders secretary-general Zulkifli Mohd Nizam yesterday.
"It is a campaign called 'without palm oil', where a label with this statement is placed on food products," he said.
In a statement, Zulkifli said the move would have a negative influence on Belgian consumers.
The main culprits behind the campaign, he said, were several food corporations in Belgium.
"Some have made outlandish and hurtful claims about Malaysian palm oil, such as that it causes deforestation," said Zulkifli.
"This is untrue," he said. "It is a fact that Malaysia has one of the best forest conservation laws," he said, adding that Malaysia had kept to its 1992 United Nations Rio Summit commitment of protecting a minimum 50 per cent of the forests in the country.
Zulkifli said the campaign would affect the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of families, who help cultivate some 40 per cent of the Malaysia's oil palm.
He noted that oil palm cultivation had lifted millions of people out of poverty here.
"The labels are illegal, factually incorrect and they are harmful," said Zulkifli. "There is a clear case for their removal," he added.
He said the call was made following a Belgian trade delegation visit to the country aimed at forging stronger friendship and business ties between the two nations.
"We urge the Belgian government to use this friendship visit to support Malaysian palm oil small farmers and reject the anti-palm oil labels," Zulkifli added.