Sights set on palm oil

Star News Group; By Belinda Nolan 25th November 2008

THEY may be too young to drive or vote but Braybrook College students are old enough to know what's important to them.

Around 30 Year 7 students are launching their own campaign against unsustainable palm oil production.

Although barely out of primary school, the youngsters have taken on some of the world's biggest manufacturing companies and even the Federal Government.

The students have started their own action group to lobby for greater controls on palm oil use and labelling.

A form of vegetable oil derived from the African oil palm tree, palm oil is the second most widely used edible oil source in the world.

It is used in many products, such as TimTam biscuits and KFC.

"Not many people realise that these foods contain palm oil because it doesn't say it on the label," said 13-year-old Muna, one of the group's two spokespersons. "There needs to be correct labelling because people have the right to make informed decisions about what they are eating."

After watching a documentary about palm oil production and its devastating impact on the environment, the students vowed to take positive action to introduce change.

Muna said watching the documentary had been a life-changing experience for the students.

"It was really upsetting watching it because they were chopping down the trees with the orangutans still in them," the Braybrook student said. "About halfway through the DVD, the whole class started asking our teacher about ways we could take action. We all decided we wanted to do something about it."

The group presented their findings to Greens MLC Colleen Hartland and environmental representatives during assembly yesterday.

"We will keep lobbying the government on this issue until something is done about it," Muna said.