The Bite Blog

Oreo Cookies and Global Warning: What’s the Connection?

Biofuels,Blog,Hunger & Food Crisis

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008, 11:27 AM

Oreo cookies, Cheez-It crackers, and other foods, soaps, and cosmetics, all contain palm oil–the demand for which has more than doubled in the past year, making palm oil the most widely-traded vegetable oil in the world.

The climate change connection? The push for palm is encroaching on some of the world’s most important rainforests. Most of the palm oil in the U.S. is importted from Indonesia and Malaysia, where burning of forests to make way for plantations is commonplace. This deforestation, and the release of stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, is one of the main reasons Indonesia is among the worst contributors to the manmade global warming effect.

The Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace International, Friends of the Earth and the Center for Science in the Public Interest are all campaigning to increase public awareness of the environmental impact of current palm oil production.

Leila Salazar-Lopez, who leads Rainforest Action network’s agribusiness campaign says, “There’s currently no palm oil in the world that can be proven to be sustainable.”

These groups are building a coalition of concerned citizens and food companies to advocate for sustainable palm oil. Get involved!

Learn more about palm oil and how you are affected here.

Comment (1)
  1. Richard Zimmerman Says:

    Thank you so much for discussing palm oil on your website! It’s wonderful to see the Small Planet Institute getting involved!

    Palm oil is a silent killer. In order to cultivate it, corporations are clearcutting old growth forests and converting the land into industrial plantations on a horrific scale. 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.

    One of the biggest victims of the palm oil industry is the orangutan. The forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only place where they live, and the cultivation of palm oil has directly led to the brutal deaths of thousands of individuals as the industry expanded over the last decade.

    When rainforest is cleared, adult orangutans are usually shot on sight. These peaceful sentient beings are often beaten, burned, mutilated and tortured. And they are often eaten. Babies are torn off their dying mothers and sold on the black market as illegal pets to rich families who see 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 the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, 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 and keep up the great work!

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

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