Sustainable Palm Oil? Who Knows, Thanks to Derelict Auditors

Was the palm oil in your cookies, fast food, or shampoo produced sustainably, without destroying tropical forests or exploiting human-trafficked workers? Unfortunately, it might be impossible to know for sure, according to a new report from the Environmental Investigative Agency.

The report, Who Watches the Watchmen?, alleges malfeasance and incompetence by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an international consortium created in 2004 to audit and certify palm-oil companies to ensure sustainable production of the product, which is used in about half of all packaged items sold in supermarkets.

“The harm inflicted on people and the environment by the oil palm industry is a global scandal,” the report states.

RSPO’s auditing system is “critically flawed,” the EIA report claims. “Auditing firms are fundamentally failing to identify and mitigate unsustainable practices by oil palm firms. Not only are they conducting woefully substandard assessments, but the evidence indicates that in some cases they are colluding with plantation companies to disguise violations.”

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