An Australian bill would require mandatory labeling of all foods that contain palm oil. Palm oil, say experts, is as unhealthy for the environment as it is for our bodies. The proposed legislation would help inform Australian consumers and urge palm oil producers toward greater environmental sustainability.
Radio Australia reports that the Heart Foundation of Australia has found palm oil to contain 50% saturated fat, despite being currently categorized as a vegetable oil. “Australians consume 10 kilograms of palm oil every year and don’t know it,” said Senator Nick Xenophon, quoted in Stock & Land. Xenophon is one of the bill’s major sponsors.
Those opposing the bill are worried that it may strain Australia’s relationship with the major countries that produce palm oil. But Irwan Gunawan, of World Wildlife Federation Indonesia, dismisses those concerns in relation to the significance of palm oil’s environmental impact. Production of palm oil has been linked to the destruction of native forests in Indonesia and Malaysia, threatening species such as the orangutan.
“[Mandatory labeling] is deemed as a trade barrier,” Gunawan told Radio Australia. “But from the perspective of the conservation organizations, it is the time to start encouraging and trying to do better practices on the ground. So this kind of reaction would come from the business community.”
“This initiative,” Gunawan added, “would … transform the behavior of the palm oil producers towards better and sustainable practices, on the ground and along the supply chain.”
The bill is pending a vote in Australia’s House of Representatives.
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