Skip to content

On the Palm Oil Crisis, Trolls and Steve Best

The palm oil crisis has had another big break.

In terms of coverage, at least.

Fortune magazine’s "Eco-police Find New Target: Oreos," by Marc Gunther, re-alerts the masses that . . .

"The link between the supermarket shelf, climate change and shrinking rainforests is palm oil, a controversial ingredient that may now be the most widely-traded vegetable oil in the world."

There are also some creatures in there who are suffering and dying off. Oh, and some workers aren’t exactly being treated well, either.

Gunther mentions the Rainforest Action Network campaign (among others), including links to their arguments, and even quotes the ED of RAN, Mike Brune, who said:

"Most customers won’t want rainforest destruction and climate change in every mouthful of cookies or crackers, so our plan is to start with the most prominent brands. Once we get some of the top brands on our side, we’ll use the power of the pocketbook to convince the ‘A,B,C’s’ (ADM, Bunge and Cargill) that destroying rainforests and increasing climate change isn’t smart – for business or the planet."

The E’s aren’t far behind (wink wink, nudge nudge). Then again, I’m not sure if Earth Balance qualifies as a prominent brand to the rest of the world. Gunther continues:

"The agribusiness companies say they are doing their
best to buy palm oil that is produced with minimal harm to the
environment. All are participants in a partnership, formed by the World
Wildlife Fund and Unilever (UN), called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO, which is setting standards for palm-oil cultivation."

Is that like the Freedom Food, Animal Compassionate and Certified Humane? Read on . . .

trouble is, critics say, the RSPO principles as they are now written
are vague, don’t prevent the destruction of rainforests, and are not
well-enforced. What’s more, only a handful of palm plantations have
been certified to date by RSPO.

‘There’s currently no palm oil in the world that can be proven to be
sustainable,’ said Leila Salazar-Lopez, who leads RAN’s agribusiness
campaign. The growing use of palm oil in biofuels has made the problem
even more urgent."

There is hope. Sort of. Like by
growing palm trees in already cleared land (according to at least one
expert). But at least for the short term, the answer is still: Just say
no to, well, you know . .  .

As for trolls, Steve Best directed me to a post on the Delaware Liberal called "Troll Management"
that has some great tips, such as: "Being an asshole is your
prerogative, recognizing you as one is the prerogative of the rest of
us." Ironically, another is: "Do not  use abusive language (at
management’s discretion) you will be warned then banned."

My favorite is: "Attempting to drag any DelawareLiberal contributor
or commenter’s real life into the blog-world will not end well for
you." And here’s my question about that: Remember how I was annoyed that Wayne Pacelle (the human conundrum) is a vegan,
yet he runs a welfare organization and, in my mind, doesn’t do animals
justice? I took his personal choice to be a vegan and factored it into
his position and his work and end up mighty confused. Meanwhile, if he
weren’t a vegan, I wouldn’t be at all surprised or disappointed by what
he does. But there are plenty of other reasons to be disappointed.

Stay tuned for Monday’s post: Steve Best’s critique of Pacelle and HSUS.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Palm oil is the most shameful substance on earth. In order to cultivate it, corporations are clearcutting old growth forests and converting them to plantations. Hundreds of thousands of square acres of pristine rainforest in Indonesia and Malaysia have already been destroyed– and every living creature in these forests has been systematically killed in the process.

    By far, the biggest victim of the palm oil industry is the orangutan. The forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only place where orangutans live, and the cultivation of palm oil has directly led to the horribly brutal deaths of thousands of individuals.

    When rainforest is being cleared, adult orangutans are shot on sight. Or beaten. Or burned. Or tortured. Or mutilated. And often eaten. Babies are ripped off their dying mothers and sold on the black market as illegal pets to rich families who use them as status symbols of their wealth and power.

    Some of the luckier orangutans are confiscated and brought to sanctuaries such as the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, which is now home to approximately 700 orphaned and displaced orangutans– many as young as a few weeks old. The Center is run by Lone Droscher Nielsen and is featured on Animal Planet's series 'Orangutan Island'.

    To learn more about the crisis facing wild orangutans because of palm oil and see how you can help protect them, please visit the Orangutan Outreach website:

    Thanks for your time,

    Richard Zimmerman
    Director, Orangutan Outreach
    Reach out and save the orangutans!

    August 23, 2008
  2. I think it is family but more specifically the children. When they bring up the children that seems to be the line.

    August 23, 2008
  3. that last one is by someone from the DelawareLiberal and I'm not sure what it means . . .

    August 24, 2008
  4. kim #

    I think donvitti meant when they bring commenter's children into the discussion, regarding the "bringing real life" onto the blog disclaimer.

    I've really been noticing the palm oil in lots of things now, and am actively trying to avoid it. It's really frustrating when it's part of an oil "mix" or the disclaimer says "May contain palm oil, canola oil, etc". That makes it difficult.

    Which all means I should cut back on my processed food!

    August 25, 2008
  5. Ohhhh. Thanks, Kim. That makes sense.

    I've been seeing palm oil, too. Not in food, but in practically everything in my guest bathroom (which is mostly items that were part of gift or sample packages).

    August 25, 2008
  6. kim #

    Yes, it's in lots of personal products too. Ugh…

    August 25, 2008

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS