KLA Party’s secretary-general commented in a Facebook post today (July 7) that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’s (Peta’s) campaign against Thai products containing coconut for using monkeys to collect the fruit is discriminatory because in the West truffle hogs are used to help collect the edible fungi, PostToday reported.
Mr Atavit Suwannapakdee said the use of Thai monkeys to collect coconuts and the use of western hogs to help collect truffles are cultural traditions that should be respected and not lead to cultural discrimination.
In Thailand man and monkey train together, are bound together and work together to collect coconuts and this fruit is an important ingredient in Thai -cuisine which is famous worldwide with popular coconut-based dishes including Tom Kha Kai and Kaeng Khiew Wan.
Thailand has training standards for monkeys from school to university, he added.
The Kla Party MP also said that there is evidence that the photos of monkeys being tortured are old ones that were reused.
In the western world domestic pigs have been used to help locate and extract truffles which are a key ingredient in many tasty dishes such as soups, salads and the main course.
That Peta campaigns against the torture of animals is understandable, he said, but added that this time campaigning for many countries to ban Thai products that have coconut mixed in them is too harsh and strongly discriminates against Thai culture.
In the modern era diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds should be respected, he pointed out.
Meanwhile New York Times quoted Peta as saying that an undercover investigation of eight Thai farms found that monkeys are forced to gather as many as 1,000 coconuts a day and treated cruelly. It said its campaign has led to several major retail outlets to remove products from companies alleged to use Thai coconuts harvested by monkeys.
The Peta campaign has drawn extra attention after it was publicly applauded by Carrie Symonds, the fiancee of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Peta Senior Vice President Jason Baker rejected the Thai commerce minister’s denial of monkey abuse in the industry.
“The government can lead the industry to operate humanely, with an animal-free method that the rest of the region has already adopted, or it can be responsible for the industry’s downfall, because the writing is on the wall,” he said in an emailed statement. “Increasing numbers of consumers are speaking with their wallets, and retailers are listening.”
Top: A Thai monkey with his owner at a farm.
Below: A Thai monkey walking on a tree to pick coconuts. Photos: Thai News Agency