Aerial view
A satellite image showing deforestation in Malaysian Borneo to allow the plantation of oil palm. )Photo: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

Too much Halloween candy is a recipe for a stomachache. It’s also part of the recipe for climate change.

Most candy, along with many snack foods and other products like soap and makeup, contains palm oil.

As demand for the oil grows, huge tracts of forest in Indonesia and Malaysia are burned to make room for palm oil trees. That releases carbon to the atmosphere. And, much of this expansion is happening in carbon-rich peatlands.

Donlon: “It’s just short-sighted to be clearing them for this purpose.”

That’s Diana Donlon with the Center for Food Safety. She says consumers should know how harmful this industry is. But, she says …

Donlon: “The idea isn’t to just stop using palm. It’s just a question of doing it right.”

For example, practices that improve soil health and water efficiency can increase agricultural yields without destroying more forest. And when farmers do expand, they can move into already cleared areas.

Some companies have committed to using sustainably produced palm oil. Donlon says consumers have the power to convince many more to do the same.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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Bruce Lieberman

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...