What is palm oil?
Grown only in the tropics, the oil palm tree produces high-quality oil used primarily for cooking in developing countries. It is also used in food products, detergents, cosmetics and, to a small extent, biofuel. Palm oil is a small ingredient in the U.S. diet, but more than half of all packaged products Americans consume contain palm oil—it’s found in lipstick, soaps, detergents and even ice cream.
Palm oil is a very productive crop. It offers a far greater yield at a lower cost of production than other vegetable oils. Global production of and demand for palm oil is increasing rapidly. Plantations are spreading across Asia, Africa and Latin America. But such expansion comes at the expense of tropical forests—which form critical habitats for many endangered species and a lifeline for some human communities.
For more info from WWF click here.
Are Your Cookies Causing Orangutan Extinction?
Large areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems with high conservation values have been cleared to make room for vast monoculture oil palm plantations. This clearing has destroyed critical habitat for many endangered species—including rhinos, elephants and tigers.
Scientists warn that orangutans, gentle and intelligent animals among humankind’s closest kin, could become extinct within our lifetime if their rainforest homes continue to be destroyed for palm oil plantations. But the primary threat pushing them toward extinction lies much closer to home than you may think: you’ll find it hidden in the snack food aisle of your local grocery store, and likely in your own shopping cart.
When you eat food that comes out of a bag, a box, or a package of any kind, chances are you are eating palm oil. It is added to chocolate, turned into fry oil, and snuck into snacks of all sorts—in fact, it can now be found in roughly half the packaged food products sold in grocery stores. This palm oil comes at a terrible human and environmental cost. Skyrocketing demand has driven massive, industrial palm oil plantations into millions of acres of formerly lush rainforest habitat in Indonesia and Malaysia, worsening climate change and causing widespread human rights violations.
For more information from Rainforest Action Network click here.
What can you do to make a difference?
Become aware of palm oil. Read the ingredients lists of the foods you buy.
Watch this video and send it to your friends to watch
The Rainforest Action Network has a Palm Oil Action Team. Find out more information here.