What is palm oil?
Palm oil is an extremely popular vegetable oil derived from pulping the fruit of oil palms native to Africa. Used in a wide array of packaged foods, baked goods, cosmetics and other products, palm oil touches our lives every time we make a trip to the supermarket.
What’s the problem with palm oil?
Demand is increasing. In the last decade, palm oil imports have risen nearly 500% in the US alone. The dramatic and growing demand for this crop is now one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction worldwide. Vast areas of pristine rainforest are destroyed every year in order to make way for oil palm plantations.
Over 50,000 orangutans have died as a result of deforestation due to palm oil production in the last 20 years. By purchasing products made with palm oil, American consumers are being made into unwitting accomplices in the extinction of the orangutan.
Unchecked palm oil production is also responsible for widespread human rights violations and the release of significant quantities of carbon pollution into the atmosphere.
What can be done?
Environmental groups are asking snack food companies to ensure that the palm oil they use has not resulted in deforestation and habitat destruction. To do this, supply chain transparency and rigorous safeguards are necessary.
Other oils are available – oils that have been produced responsibly and ethically. Though all edible oils have an environmental footprint, it is possible to produce them sustainably.
The RSPO and sustainable palm oil
Be wary of “RSPO certified” or “Green Palm” labels. Formed in 2004, the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) allows “certified sustainable” palm oil producers to destroy rainforests. According to the Rainforest Action Network, responsible palm oil is produced without contributing to rainforest or peatland destruction, species extinction, greenhouse gas emissions or human rights abuses.
Labeling palm oil
Because of inadequate standards, palm oil can be labeled under many names, including:
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (in almost everything that foams)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaD
Palm Oil Kernel
Palm Fruit Oil
Sodium Palm Kernelate
Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
Hyrated Palm Glycerides
Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylaye
What can I do?
As demand for palm oil continues to increase, the stakes will only get higher. More orangutans and other animals will die. More habitats will be destroyed. Consumers can educate themselves and become more conscious of the choices they make. It’s an uphill battle, but can only start with awareness. Reposted from: http://oproar.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/the-price-of-palm-oil/