As man-made forest fires raged across Sumatra,Indonesia this year to create more palm oil plantations, American conservationists are fighting mad about the emissions that palm oil is adding to global warming.
Seattle, WA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/19/2013 --From the drought stricken corn fields in Kansas to the looming threat of coastal communities in New Jersey, California and Florida being drowned by rising sea levels, Americans are protesting what they see as carbon emissions that are being added to the atmosphere unnecessarily.
The culprit is palm oil. It is a vegetable crop that is being touted as a sustainable option to supply the world’s needs for vegetable oils. Able to bear a much higher yield of oil per hectare of land used, conservationists are accusing palm oil growers of using methods of production that are anything but sustainable. Experts have placed palm oil’s carbon footprint as being a close second to the much reviled tarsands oil from Canada.
In a multi-state action organized by consumer group, Palm Oil Consumers Action, online petitions have been created to demand that state governments and US Senators adopt a policy on state use of any products that contain palm oil. . The states were carefully selected from those which are already feeling the impacts of climate change like Kansas which is still reeling from drought and other states whose coastlines will be impacted when rising sea levels shrink the land mass in states like Florida, New York and California.
In his petition to Governor Kitzhaber of Oregon and Senators Merkley and Wyden, renowned primatologist and author J. Patrick Malone stated :
“Oregon’s 2010 Global Warming Commission adopted an “Interim Roadmap to 2020,” with recommendations addressing utilities, materials and waste management, transportation and land use, agriculture, forestry, and industry. The beneficial effects of these proactive measures are now unraveling at the hands of rogue members of the palm oil industry. “
The other petitions carried a similar message to their respective Senators and Governors and demand that policies similar to the ones adopted by the United Kingdom are put in place for the US.
The UK policy which was introduced in the fall of 2012 acknowledged that palm oil has a major impact on climate change, loss of biodiversity and a constant violator of human rights.
France and Germany made pledges in September 2013 to adopt similar laws and this was what inspired the American conservationists to launch their own campaign to push the US government to adopt similar policies.
On a consumer level, Rainforest Action Network of California launched its own campaign against twenty of the biggest snack makers in the US.
Calling it a Conflict Palm Oil campaign against the Snack Foods 20, a reference to twenty of the biggest brands of snacks in the US, RAN is accusing the brands of driving orangutan extinction, climate change and human rights violations.
Their campaign also takes issue with how the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil ( RSPO ) a certification body for sustainable palm oil, is allowing its credibility to be diluted with offsets and vague schemes for certifying sustainable palm oil.
This approach is consistent with a new smart phone app that was launched by the El Paso zoo recently. The zoo urges its users to completely boycott any products that contain palm oil, a stance which runs against the mainstream acceptance of RSPO product by other zoos in the US. In justifying its hard line stance against palm oil, the El Paso zoo calls out palm oil as a leading cause of deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia, which produce over eighty percent of the world’s palm oil supply and criticizes US brands for using palm oil where sustainability is neither tracked nor measured.
OF the fifty million tons of palm oil that is produced today, only about 15% of it is certified under sustainable labels. This has raised questions from groups whether a boycott by Americans would have any impact on palm oil’s monstrous footprint on the environment.
“We can only influence our own government and fellow Americans,” said Palm Oil Consumer Action spokes person LeAnn Fox. “The Chinese and Indian markets maybe the biggest users of palm oil but you can’t really compare these markets to the US. The average salary for the Indian worker is less than $100 per month so we can’t really expect them to pay a few more cents for sustainable product. Americans can afford to pay a few cents more for Kellogg’s cereals and we refuse to support products that cause global warming which is already affecting so many American lives.”