Environmentalists Target Snack Food Makers Over Palm Oil Use
(Fortune) -- What do Oreo cookies made by Nabisco (KFT, Fortune 500), Cheez-It crackers from Kellogg's (K, Fortune 500) or General Mills' (GIS, Fortune 500) Fiber One Chewy Bars have to do with global warming and the destruction of tropical rainforests? A lot, say environmental activists.
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.
Here's the problem: Demand for palm oil, which is found in soaps and cosmetics as well as food, has more than doubled in the last decade as worldwide food consumption has soared. Farmers, in turn, are expanding their plantations, burning forests in Indonesia and Malaysia, where nearly all of the palm oil imported to the United States originates. Deforestation is the primary reason that Indonesia's greenhouse gas emissions are the third-highest in the world.
The Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace International, Friends of the Earth and the Center for Science in the Public Interest are all campaigning against palm oil. (You can find their arguments here and here and here and here.) Last week, RAN asked about 2,000 volunteers to sneak into food stores across the United States and attach stickers to products made with palm oil.
"Warning!," the stickers said. "May Contain Rainforest Destruction."