Palm oil is slippery stuff. It's in biscuits and shampoo, biodiesel and margarine, soap and, well, roughly a third of everything you buy at the supermarket. And most of it is grown on land previously covered by rainforest in Malaysia and Indonesia.
So the creation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), where growers and food manufacturers, retailers and commodity traders can work out how to do things better should have been a good idea. Especially when the likes of British retailers Sainsbury's and Tesco kept promising that if there was sustainable palm oil out there, they would make sure they used it and bought products made from it.
The roundtable and the environment group WWF set up a certification system to recognise sustainably produced palm oil. Production began in several countries last year, and in November, five years after the roundtable was set up, the first shipload of certified palm oil arrived in Rotterdam from south-east Asia. ...