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What is it about palm oil?

I had heard that palm oil plantations were destroying orangutan habitat but had no idea of the scope of the problem until I read Mark Hawthorne's article in Veg News. The industry is huge and the environmental consequences enormous. As the native peat forests are burned, millions of tons of CO2 are released, making Indonesia the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the U.S. Many species are at risk including the orangutan, Sumatran tiger, Malayan tapir, sun bear, bearded pig, rhinoceros, proboscis monkey and all the less visible species that make up the ecosystem. The forests are cleared by burning, with the animals burned alive. Because the industry considers the orangutan a pest, those that try to flee the flames may be forced back or attacked with knives. For more information in a concise form I recommend the Problem with Palm Oil Fact Sheet put out by the Rain Forest Network ( For more detail, see the Mark Hawthorne article:

Look for palm oil in: bars...lip balm...margarine...peanut butter...soap...soymilk...vegan cheese...cosmetics

Unfortunately, it goes by many names:
palm fruit....Elaeis guineensis....FP(K)O (fractionated palm oil)....glyceryl stearate....hydrated palm glycerides...OPKO (organic palm barrel oil) ....palmate....palmitate....PHPKO(partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil)....sodium dodecyl sulphate....sodium isostearoyl lactylaye....sodium laureth sulphate ....sodium lauryl sulphate....stearic acid