Support a Tax on the Consumption of Palm Oil Products

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Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the pulp of the fruit of oil palm trees. It is the most efficient oilseed crop, and is one of the few highly saturated vegetable fats. Palm oil is heavily used in the commercial food industry because of its lower cost and versatility, and because it contains no trans fats.

As a result of the product’s flexibility combined with its cheap production costs, palm oil is of high demand among big food production corporations. Unfortunately, this means that habitats which have the capability to support palm oil plantations are being cleared and burned in order to make room for the resource. These ecosystems include tropical rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands-- ecosystems which are rapidly decreasing in area. Palm oil farmers slash and burn these diverse natural habitats in parts of Africa, Asia, North and South America, Malaysia, and Indonesia in order to replace them with homogenous palm oil plantations which stretch across miles of terrain. This poses a threat to the the biodiversity of the rainforest regions, as well as many plant and animal species who, because of the palm oil, now lack a habitat in which to live. Many of these species are already endangered and risk becoming extinct. Moreover, the process of clearing the land through the slash and burn method releases copious amounts of carbon dioxide and ash into the atmosphere-- further increasing the effect of climate change.

The reason that palm oil is so high in demand is because of it’s low cost. So, the most effective way to reduce its use by large corporations is to place a tax on the use of the resource. This would level the playing field between palm oil and other vegetable oils, causing its demand to decrease, and thus protecting these valuable rainforest ecosystems and species from extinction. In effect, this would also decrease the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. It would require companies like Carl’s Jr, Dairy Queen, Domino's, Starbucks, and MacDonald’s, companies who regularly exploit this resource, to take responsibility for the harmful effects of this practice.

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