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Sustainable palm oil: boycott or buy?

Jun 29

Written by:
29/06/2015 15:07  RssIcon

Have your say

We 're looking for the views of our readers on the controversial issue of palm oil.

In the next issue of the magazine (September/October 2015) which comes out in August, we'll be taking an in-depth look at the issues surrounding palm oil and your responses will help to shape the coverage.

As many of you will know the mass production of palm oil is devastating the world’s rainforests. Some 8.7 million acres of forest in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea was converted for oil palm plantations between 1990 and 2010. [1] 



Many organisations from the Zoological Society of London, to Survival International and Greenpeace, have spoken out about the impacts of this deforestation on endangered species, human rights, and climate change.

But the expansion of the industry is continuing at pace and the industry is now setting its sights on tropical Africa. A recent investigation by the Rainforest Foundation warned that two-thirds of the forest in the Congo Basin – or a colossal 284 million acres – have suitable soil and climate for growing palm.


Raising standards

Industry standards from the 'Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil' (RSPO) are seen as far too weak to stop the environmental and social problems caused by the demand for this oil. Several large companies including Nestle are even creating their own standards which go beyond those of the RSPO. [2]

A desire to curb the growing demand for palm oil has seen many people in Europe and the US try to avoid it altogether. However pushing for alternatives could bring its own problems as replacement crops such as soya use more land and inputs. [3]

Some of the loudest voices such as the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace say avoiding it won't help, and are calling for the standards of production to be improved instead. [4] 


What do you think the most effective consumer action would be? 

  • Highlight the worst performing companies and push them to also go 'beyond RSPO'? 
  • Pressure the EU to tighten up import regulations?
  • Boycott palm oil altogether?
  • Or something else?



Have your say on our forum >



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