Oil or Orangutans: Can Consumers Choose?

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by Liza Kappelle AAP for news.com.au

The deaths of thousands of orangutans amid widespread environmental degradation have been laid at the door of the oil palm industry.

It’s an emotive issue that’s prompted an attempt in Australia’s parliament to force manufacturers to list palm oil as an ingredient on food labels so consumers can avoid it or choose sustainably produced oil.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon’s truth in labelling bill would make failure to label palm oil as an ingredient a breach of consumer law with hefty fines.

His bill, launched in 2009, passed the Senate but is stalled in the lower house due to a lack of support.

Senator Xenophon hasn’t given up.

Not with in-principle support from the coalition and an election ahead.

“I am hopeful there will be changes sooner rather than later,” he says.

“Consumers are treated disgracefully.

“I want food labelling, and not just of palm oil, to be an election issue.”

His primary beef is about how some crops are produced.

Conservation websites claim palm oil costs the lives of up to 50 orangutans a week as the equivalent of 300 football fields are deforested every hour for palm oil production.

Xenophon says there’ll always be a place for palm oil in food.

“The issue is to give an absolute priority to sustainable palm oil,” he says.

His bill would see certified sustainable palm oil listed as “CS Palm Oil” to give consumers an ethical option.

This excerpt from a news story and the photo appeared in and is courtesy of news.com.au and can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

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