The Thai Commerce Ministry will invite members of the foreign diplomatic corps to observe the harvesting of coconuts by pigtailed macaque monkeys, in an effort to prove that the process does not involve cruelty to animals, as alleged by animal rights group PETA.
Commerce Permanent Secretary Mr. Boonyarith Kalayanamit says that he wants to show that using monkeys to harvest coconuts is a traditional way of life and the practice does not amount to torture.
He said he has instructed commercial attachés at Thai embassies abroad to clarify the matter, especially with supermarkets that sell coconut products from Thailand.
Meanwhile, Mr. Somdet Susomboon, director-general of International Trade Promotion Department, said that the Thai Foreign Trade Promotion Office in London has been instructed to explain, to supermarkets and retail outlets, that the harvesting of coconuts by trained monkeys is not cruel.
Four British retailers, Waitrose, Co-op, Boots & Ocado, have promised not to sell coconut products that use monkey labour, while Morrisons has already removed such products from its shelves.
PETA claims that monkeys are captured as babies and trained, often being chained to old car tyres or confined in cages, and that male monkeys are forced to pick as many as 1,000 coconuts a day.