PETA warns of class action lawsuit if coconut labelling system promise not kept
PETA has welcomed the Thai Commerce Ministry’s use of a traceable labelling system, intended to ensure that Thai coconuts are not harvested by monkeys, but warned that Thai companies exporting coconut products which do not comply with the system may face class action lawsuits, said PETA senior vice president for International Campaigns, Jason Baker, in a statement issued on Thursday.
“We would welcome the use of a traceability system if it is genuine, but we know, from experience, that people in business are not always forthright. That is why we caution companies that, if they give any false assurances, they will face a class action lawsuit for misrepresentation and, for that reason alone, the effectiveness of this labelling system must withstand scrutiny,” said Mr. Baker.
Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit chaired a meeting with all parties concerned, including the exporters of coconut products, the Association of Cruelty against Animals of Thailand and the Friends of Wild Animals Foundation, to discuss ways to stop the use of monkey labour in coconut harvesting and to clarify the matter to supermarkets in Britain, which have boycotted Thai coconut products in response to calls from PETA.
It was agreed that a traceable labelling system will be put in place and that Thai commercial attachés overseas must explain, to European importers, the steps being taken by Thai producers to ensure that monkeys are not used in coconut harvesting.
Mr. Baker said he hopes Chaokoh, a major player in the coconut industry, will retire monkeys, which are allegedly kept in cages or on chains.
“Given there are some 80,000 coconut farms in Thailand, meaningful action must replace mere words. PETA and every kind of consumer look forward to seeing a Thai coconut industry that leaves monkeys alone,” he added.
Coconut farmers, on Koh Samui in Thailand’s southern province of Surat Thani, have, however, expressed concern that the labelling system may mean buyers to stop purchasing their coconuts.
Many coconut farmers insist that they have stopped using monkeys to pick coconuts, because their coconut trees are not very tall and the coconuts can be harvested by humans faster than by monkeys, which can only pick one coconut at a time.