Palm Oil; The Environmental Killer We Can’t Do Without

Published in Rant on Nov 14, 2018 by Tim Marner™

As of now, every third mammal in Indonesia listed under endangered species due to deforestation and encroaching on their habitat.

That’s a disgraceful fact made only worse by the fact the vast majority of this animals have become endangered due to the mass deforestation by companies for palm oil. 

So what is palm oil? 

At 66 million tons annually, palm oil is the most commonly produced vegetable oil. Its low world market price and properties that lend themselves to processed foods have led the food industry to use it in half of all supermarket products. Palm oil can be found in frozen pizzas, biscuits and margarine, as well as body creams, soaps, makeup, candles and detergents. 

Why's it so bad?

Few people realise that almost half of the palm oil imported into the EU is used as biofuel. Since 2009, the mandatory blending of biofuels into motor vehicle fuels has been a major cause of deforestation. It's quite ironic to think that biofuel, something which was intended to be greener is actually causing miles more environmental damage than traditional fuels such as oil or gas.

Oil palm plantations currently cover more than 27 million hectares of the Earth’s surface. According to World Wildlife Fund, there are about 20 million hectares of abandoned land available to grow palm oil trees. However, firms used to prefer clearing forests first to get double profit. One is by selling timber trees and another is for the oil. 

Forests and human settlements have been destroyed and replaced by “green deserts” containing virtually no biodiversity on an area the size of New Zealand. Indonesia's rainforests and peatlands are among the world's most species-rich environments and home to numerous endangered plants and animals, such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers and Bornean rhinos. The destruction of natural habitats deprives the animals of the basis for their existence, causing an irreversible loss of biological diversity as well as loss of food source for animals like Orangutans. 

Orangutans are particularly vulnerable because they are dependent on large contiguous forest areas. In search of food, they often get lost in the plantations, where they are regarded as pests. According to the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP), at least 1,500 orangutans were clubbed to death by palm oil plantation workers in 2006 alone. According to the UN, there is a risk that no wild orangutans will remain outside of protected areas by 2020. It's not just Orang-utan's though, there are many animal species about to extinct due to massive deforestation for creating space for palm oil plantation. Endangered species include but aren't limited too Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran Tiger, Asian Rhinoceros, Sun Bear, Clouded Leopard, Malayan Tapir, Proboscis Monkey and Gibbons. 

As consumers, we are largely unaware of these broader issues, yet our daily palm oil consumption also impacts our health: refined palm oil contains large amounts of harmful fatty acid esters that are known to damage DNA and cause cancer.

Let’s come away from the facts for a second

Ignore everything what I’ve told you, just look at the pictures. Is this where we’ve come as a species that we think that this is acceptable on any level? Mass deforestation in the name of profits, it’s obscene to look at. Iceland are currently the only major supermarket in the UK who are trying to become palm oil free by 2018, they've also recently had a palm oil advert with Greenpeace banned for being too political which I've posted below. Below I’ve posted some videos about the effects of Palm Oil and a bit of footage as well as some advice from leading charitaties about what you can do to help fight palm oil.

But, what can I do?

•Tell others about the problem.

•Call on your political representatives to advocate the mandatory labeling of palm oil.

•Do not buy products containing palm oil (for example, by referring to this list of palm-oil-free products), but make sure that your boycott sends a clear message by letting manufacturers and your elected representatives know why you are not buying them.

•Demand transparency about the sources of palm oil in all consumer products.


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