September 11th, 2009
By Ashley Phillips
Green Right Now
Palm Oil, an ingredient found in most processed food, has been the subject of much environmental debate in recent years over its role in deforestation. It is commonly found in cooking oil and as an ingredient in cosmetics, soaps, detergents, and some plastics. Palm oil also has been considered for use in the production of biodiesel.
There have been many attempts to make palm oil sustainable. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was even established in 2003 to do just that. Unfortunately, six years later, there is still no system that can effectively trace palm oil beyond the processor to the plantation level. Companies that manufacture products using palm oil have little way of knowing where the controversial substance originated — which leaves the question of whether and to what degree palm oil is sustainably farmed up in the air.