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The G Word

The G team blog on all things green

Palm oil politics

Palm oil campaign

Endangered animals, including orangutans and Sumatran tigers are being lost at the expense of palm oil plantations in South East Asia. It's time to push for mandatory labelling of the oil in our food.

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Did you know you could be consuming around 10 kg of palm oil each year without having a clue? It's a pretty sickening thought, considering that in South East Asia, where the bulk of the world's oil palm is grown, palm oil plantations are responsible for destroying massive amounts of rainforest - the equivalent of 300 soccer fields each hour - and putting the last remaining orangutans and Sumatran tigers at risk.

The problem for eco-aware Australian shoppers is that while palm oil is in around 40 per cent of the foods we buy, as well as a range of personal care products, it isn't required to be named specifically among the ingredients on product packaging. Instead, manufacturers can choose to label it simply as 'vegetable oil', leaving concerned consumers in the dark as to what they're actually buying.

Thankfully awareness surrounding this issue is on the rise. Some manufacturers are even choosing to forgo palm oil altogether, like Cadbury, who last year announced it would be ridding their chocolates of the oil completely.

There has been much campaigning around the issue as well. Last year, Zoos Victoria launched the Don't Palm Us Off campaign, calling for mandatory labelling of palm oil in all food products. They're collecting signatures - so far more than 80,000 - to build a case for the country's food labelling laws to be changed.

The campaign has promoted Independent Senator Nick Xenophon to introduce a Bill to the Senate calling for mandatory palm oil labelling. This bill is currently open for public comment, before it is to be considered by a Senate Committee at the end of April.

"This is land-mark legislation in the proposed Bill. If passed, it will put Australia ahead of the world in addressing this environmental catastrophe," said Zoos Victoria's General Manager of Community Conservation, Rachel Lowry, in a statement.

"If we achieve mandatory labelling of palm oil, we will be one of the first nations in the world to make a concerted effort to address the environmental damage caused by unsustainable palm oil production...It could also save the lives of some of the world's most endangered animals and help drive a market for sustainable palm oil that benefits both people and wildlife."

Be sure to add your voice to this important issue - G surely will be!

Submissions on the Truth in Labelling (Palm Oil) Bill can be made HERE and close April 24, or check out www.zoo.org.au/palmoil for more information and to sign the Don't Palm Us Off petition.

To learn more about palm oil, have a read of G's Instant Expert HERE.