The Problem With Palm Oil

The ubiquitous ingredient in scores of food and cosmetics products is responsible for the destruction of rainforests home to orangutans, tigers, and other endangered wildlife.
Apr 18, 2016·
Emily J. Gertz is an associate editor for environment and wildlife at TakePart.

Two words encapsulate one of the biggest global threats to tropical forests: palm oil.

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This versatile, easy-to-process crop is a boon to food processors seeking alternatives to unhealthy trans fats in prepared foods like cookies and cakes, and a cheap form of cooking oil for growing populations in China, India, and other South Asian nations. It’s a common ingredient in all sorts of cosmetics and personal care products, and even shows up as a feedstock for biofuel.

FULL COVERAGE: Fight for the Forests

But the world actually pays a high price for palm oil, since most of it is being unsustainably farmed on thousands of square miles of land that was once covered in rainforests, including some of the world’s last remaining intact habitats for orangutans, tigers, and rhinos.

Think you’re a palm oil–conscious consumer? Test your knowledge.