September 11th, 2009
By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
Digging into the palm oil debate, an urgent issue to many environmental groups, our reporter Ashley Phillips found herself slipping into a swamp of material.
For years, there has been a volley of claims and counter claims about the environmental and humanitarian consequences related to palm oil production.
The UN Environment Programme has blamed the massive destruction of rainforest in Malaysia and Indonesia for producing such a volume of manmade greenhouse gas emissions that it ranks behind only the US and China. These gases are released as the native rainforest is cleared to install or expand palm plantations, and it is exacerbated by the slash-and-burn clearing that is a double whammy to the atmosphere — removing carbon-holding rainforest while spewing carbon from massive wood fires.
Seemingly the only thing happening faster than the destruction of the rainforest in Southeast Asia is the consumer demand for palm oil which turns up in every 10th product at the grocery by some estimations.