FDA rule on trans fats could increase deforestation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week the Food and Drug Administration mandated food manufacturers to remove artificial trans fats from the U.S. food supply within three years. According to reports, removing industrial trans fats from the American diet by 2018 could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year. But the unintended consequence of a transition away from trans fats on a national level is likely to spur demand for palm oil — a leading driver of rain forest destruction — as a popular ingredient substitute, and increase landgrabs.
Friends of the Earth International Forest Campaigner Jeff Conant issued the following response:
It’s heartening that the FDA has banned trans fats for the health of U.S. consumers, but we must ensure this move does not create the perverse consequences of rain forest destruction and land grabbing in poor countries. No advance in the health of U.S. citizens should aggravate human rights violations in developing countries.
The U.S. government should create and enforce mandatory environmental and social standards on palm oil investment and palm oil purchasing. It is critical, moving forward, to ensure that the inevitable uptick in palm oil imports does not destroy tropical rain forests and food sovereignty in palm-oil producing countries.