There’s no such thing as sustainable palm oil. The palm oil industry is a major contributor to the destruction of rainforests, biodiversity loss and the climate catastrophe. This is a point made in Werner Boote’s powerful film, The Green Lie. (Here’s information on the film on his own website.)
- No such thing as sustainable palm oil – ‘certified’ can destroy even more wildlife, say scientists (Independent, 2018)
- There is no such a Thing as Sustainable Palm Oil (Environmental Ideas website, 2018)
- ‘For years we have insisted that all our 300+ own label suppliers use RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil in our products, but the evidence clearly shows that this has not stopped deforestation. Indeed, we are convinced that it is currently impossible to source palm oil for the mass market that does not risk further rainforest destruction.‘ (Iceland website, 2018)
- Sustainable Palm Oil? No, not really! (Greenpeace, 2013)
And yet palm oil is in most processed foods and a variety of other products, but you have to read the small print in order to discover this. By all means do so, and avoid palm oil consumption as far as you can, but given that it is used so widely (it’s not easy finding palm oil-free biscuits and even bread in many UK supermarkets) I think we should do more. Here are some ideas:
- petition/campaign for national government to tax/phase out palm oil (theoretically leaving the EU could open the way for stricter UK environmental policies, though a trade deal with the USA is likely to move the country in the opposite direction)
- petition/campaign for national/local government to use public procurement to reduce the use of palm oil (see remark above re Brexit)
- petition/campaign for national/local government to insist on much clearer labelling of products containing palm oil
- petition/campaign for supermarkets to avoid palm oil and/or label palm oil-containing products more clearly (the Iceland chain is a leader in this regard)
Should we implement some or all of these, or do you have other suggestions?
Finally, expect a vigorous response from the advocates of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, but take what they say with a pinch of salt – they have vast sums of money riding on this. See the Independent article mentioned above!