Palm oil is used in many processed foods as well as cosmetics and detergents. It can also be used to produce biodiesel transport fuel. For this reason, demand is high and may be contributing to the destruction of virgin forest in Malaysia and Indonesia. Environmental groups have highlighted in particular the impact this may be having on Orang-utan populations.
The Government are very conscious that increasing consumption of goods and services in the UK can have environmental and social consequences overseas. It is for this reason that DEFRA is commissioning research work on the environmental impacts of internationally sourced commodity production in general.
Specifically, the Government are also encouraging industry to sign up to the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) which is developing a globally acceptable definition of sustainable palm oil production.