Malaysia Asks WHO to Pull `Biased' Report on Palm Oil Industry

(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia has asked the World Health Organization to retract a report that says the palm oil industry is deploying tactics similar to tobacco and alcohol lobbyists to influence research into the health effects of its products.

The report, published in the Bulletin of WHO, makes claims that “casts aspersions on the reputation of our scientists and researchers” and ignores findings on the nutritional value of palm oil published in peer-reviewed science journals, the Ministry of Primary Industries said in a statement after a meeting with WHO representatives.

“We view the article as half-truths, un-scholarly, flawed and utterly biased against palm oil, with suspected intention of demonizing the palm oil industry,” it said. WHO said the report was published with a disclaimer and cannot be described as a study by the organization, according to the statement.

The production of palm oil, used in everything from cooking oil to chocolate, lipstick and shampoo, has been criticized, particularly in Western countries, for the alleged damage to rainforests and for causing water and air pollution. Governments and producers have struggled to improve the perception and marketability of the oil.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok and WHO officials are considering holding joint seminars to correct the “misinformation surrounding oils and fats, especially palm oil,” according to the statement.

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