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The guilty secrets of palm oil: Are you unwittingly contributing to the devastation of the rain forests?

Does your shopping basket contain KitKat, Hovis, Persil or Flora? If so, you may be contributing to the devastation of the wildlife-rich forests of Indonesia and Malaysia, where orangutans and other species face extinction as their habitat disappears.

Source:  Copyright 2009, Independent (UK)
Date:  May 2, 2009
Original URL: Status ONLINE

It's an invisible ingredient, really, palm oil. You won't find it listed on your margarine, your bread, your biscuits or your KitKat. It's there though, under "vegetable oil". And its impact, 7,000 miles away, is very visible indeed.

The wildlife-rich forests of Indonesia and Malaysia are being chain-sawed to make way for palm-oil plantations. Thirty square miles are felled daily in a burst of habitat destruction that is taking place on a scale and speed almost unimaginable in the West.

When the rainforests disappear almost all of the wildlife -- including the orangutans, tigers, sun bears, bearded pigs and other endangered species -- and indigenous people go. In their place come palm-oil plantations stretching for mile after mile, producing cheap oil -- the cheapest cooking oil in the world -- for everyday food.

It's not that people haven't noticed what is going on. The United Nations has documented this rampage. Environmental groups have ...

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