Palm Oil - What is it?
It’s an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees, the scientific name is Elaeis guineensis. Palm oil is one of the least expensive and most popular oils worldwide, accounting for one-third of global plant oil production.
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Oil Palm Tree
The abundant oil from the fruit of oil palms can be found under different ingredient names in everything from cookies to soap to lipstick. A natural alternative to trans fats, it has many other advantages: It’s cheap to produce, stable in processing, and slow to smoke—plus it has a long shelf life.
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The Problem with Palm Oil
Palm oil continues to be a major driver of deforestation in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan. Burning down forests to expand plantations throw out millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. There also remains some exploitation of workers and child labour.
The Palm Oil Solution?
Palm oil can be produced more sustainably and things can change. The Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil or RSPO, USDA ORGANIC, Fair Trade Certification, and Rainforest Alliance are organizations responding to the increasing concerns about the impacts palm oil was having on the environment and on society.