Stop Clear Cutting Rainforests


Targets: Senator Debbie Stabenow, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chairwoman; Congressman Dave Camp, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman

Goal: Greatly reduce the U.S. role in rainforest clear cutting by using effective tariffs and subsidies

The use of palm oil as an ingredient in the manufacture of processed foods has been rising ever since the belief became widespread that trans fats create adverse health effects. Palm oil has little to no trans fats and is widely available on the global market, but palm tree plantations are responsible for the wholesale clear cutting of rainforests to make room for a crop which needs a warm, wet tropical climate to grow.

There is, however, another source of vegetable oil low in trans fats: the soybean, which is grown extensively grown right here in the U.S. Processed food manufacturers already make use of soybean oil, and it is common knowledge in the industry that palm oil and soybean oil can be substituted for each other in the manufacturing process. Because of this, food companies will use whichever oil has the lowest price.

Since the prices of soybean and palm oil fluctuate constantly, it makes sense that if Congress took steps to increase subsidies for soybean growers while at the same time putting a tariff on palm oil imports, the price of soybean oil could be kept permanently lower than the price of palm oil. With the elimination of much of our country’s use of palm oil, the deforestation of the world’s precious rainforests would slow to a crawl. In addition, the expanded farming of soybeans here would create jobs.

If members of Congress want our kids to grow up in a world where they can be free to live without the guilt of the destruction of one of the true gems of our planet, then they would be remiss not to take this action.


Dear Senator Stabenow and Congressman Camp,

Ask any sixth grader whether we should preserve the rainforests, and you will get a resounding “Yes.” While we work hard to instill the values and beliefs underlying that response, we are nonetheless remiss ourselves in our fidelity to the ideals that shape that sentiment.

Simply by buttressing existing subsidies to soybean growers and putting a tariff on palm oil, we could cause the market itself to shift away from palm oil and towards the use of soybean oil in the manufacture of processed foods. This would result in a dramatic decline in the clear cutting of rainforests for palm tree plantations.

If you want our children’s children to grow up with something they can point to as a reflection of the values and beliefs of this generation, then I urge you to take this petition into consideration.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Jami Dwyer via Wikimedia Commons

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