Consumption and use of Palm Oil is extremely common amongst all consumers in America. According to Americanpalmoil.com, "Palm oil is currently the second largest edible oil in terms of global production and the largest single oil that is exported. Current estimates are that within the next decade, palm oil will become the largest single oil traded globally." It is a commodity that is grown in massive plantations in tropical nations, and is used in over 50% of all consumer goods from soaps and detergents to breakfast cereals and bio-fuels (ran.org).
One of the best features of this item is that it is generally beneficial for health. Palm oil contains no trans fat, rich in antioxidants, and through animal studies have proven to inhibit some cancers and prevent some blockage in arteries. Furthermore, it's great for cooking because it has a long shelf life, can be used in many different recipes, and is odorless.
Aside from being a mass resource and great for health and cooking, Palm oil is a very harmful commodity according to the Rainforest Action Network. Through their research, they have found that Palm oil is associated with rainforest destruction; threatened extinctions of animals, including orangutans; huge increases in greenhouse gas emissions; and gross human rights and labor violations (ran.org). Organizations like the Rainforest Action Network feel that corporations who have been importing Palm Oil are environmentally and socially irresponsible, and are actively trying to reduce market demand.
Since this oil is very common in our food and everyday products, we as consumers can make a difference in this cause. You can educate yourself further by visiting sites such as http://ran.org/category/issue/palm-oil, or http://thegreenspace.com/ . Tell others you know about the new information you have learned, and also shop smart by reading labels on the items your typically purchase that make contain Palm Oil.