Make palm oil a mandatory title in the ingredients list on food products on shelves in NZ.

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Palm oil is an ingredient that has been gaining popularity in food products on our shelves for the better part of a century. Not only does the production of palm oil result in deforestation and increases global warming, but the quantity of saturated fats in palm oil is often disguised and has been known to lead to increased negative health issues. 

In depth: Palm oil is an oil that is collected from the oil palm, a palm that naturally occurs in Africa and South America, but is farmed for commercial use in Asia. Industries thrive off of the use of palm oil as it is a diverse and universal product that can be farmed and manipulated for specific uses. Approximately 50% of products on supermarket shelves will have some element of palm oil in them. Palm oil is most commonly found in snack foods, cosmetics, animal feed (as the whole kernel) and some packaging. Not only is it found on shelves but in wider industries too, in the form of biofuel. The title ‘biofuel’ leads people to believe that the resource is beneficial for the environment, yet more often than not it includes palm oil. Palm oil is disguised under many names,  as it is a controversial product that will often cause people to shy away from purchasing goods that use it. Vegetable oil/fats, palmitate, stearic acids and cetyltrimethylammonium chloride are all titles given to palm oil. Giving it a scientific title or a simplified one tends to cause people to ignore palm oil, despite it still being present.

Palm oil is controversial as the use of it contributes greatly to deforestation, endangerment of animals, and global warming. Between the years of 1902 and 1960, palm oil plantations were introduced into nations such as Indonesia and Malaysia, and have since become the primary natural trade from these countries. Palm oil is officially the planet's leading cause of deforestation, as large areas of rainforest are cleared constantly to make room for palm oil plantations. Wildlife that resides in these rainforests in Indonesia (Sumatra) and Malaysia such as orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinoceros are highly threatened by this deforestation as their habitats are constantly shrinking. 2 millions acres of naturally occurring rainforest are deforested annually to plant and produce palm oil. Not all of these plantations are legal, meaning statistics are estimates and the truth is often worse. Forest fires are often set to remove large portions of rainforest to make way for palm oil plantations. This increases global warming due to the huge amounts of CO2 released with each burn.  Smallholders and indigenous people who have inhabited and protected the forest for generations are often brutally driven from their land. In Indonesia, more than 700 land conflicts are related to the palm oil industry. Human rights violations are everyday occurrences, even on supposedly “sustainable” and “organic” plantations.


Addressing this issue by adding messages on packaging about the content of the goods will help to show people the truth behind the products they so readily consume without a second thought. Bringing light to the issue by changing the packaging would bring awareness to global warming and the wildlife endangerment that is caused by producing palm oil.

Read more: http://greenpalm.org/about-palm-oil/what-is-palm-oil/what-is-palm-oil-used-for http://www.palmoilinvestigations.org/names-for-palm-oil.html http://greenpalm.org/about-palm-oil/what-is-palm-oil/palm-oil-history http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/endangered-species-threatened-by-unsustainable-palm-oil-production http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/agriculture/palm_oil/environmental_impacts/climate_change/  https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/topics/palm-oil 



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