A PRESSING MATTER
Palm oil is derived by pulping the fruit of oil palms and meanwhile found in almost half of the packaged products found in grocery stores. Palm oil is mainly produced in Southeast Asia with Indonesia and Malaysia as the main contributors.
Most of us are unaware of buying and eating products containing palm oil, like ice-cream, cookies, crackers, chocolate, cereal, energy bars, detergent, shaving cream and...the list is endless.
And why should we be aware of??
Well, this palm oil is responsible for
1. The imminent danger of extinction of the Orangutan, the Sumatra Tiger, the Pygmy Elephant and the Tree Kangaroo, to name a few
The Orangutan, a primate very close to humans, lost already 80% of it's habitat, regarding to Greenpeace about 180 square miles in two years. 95% of a Orangutan population in a given part of the rain forest will likely face death or displacement if that part of the rain forest will be converted to a plantation. Indonesia plans to double their palm oil production...the business is good....
The already critically endangered Sumatra Tiger, there are only an estimated 300-500 left, will also loose it's habitat. Further deforestation will increase the human-tiger conflict and will make tigers more susceptible to poaching
One of the least understood elephants and the smallest of Asia's elephants, the Pygmy Elephant and the Tree Kangaroo are also on the endangered list.
2. Massive violation of human rights
The fast proceeding deforestation is driving indigenous people and forest dependent communities off their land without consideration for their needs.
Due to the isolated geographic location the plantations rely on an outside work force which is supplied by so called labor brokers. These lure in workers with the promise of high wages and once the workers are on location they will be deprived of most of their rights. Sound like modern slavery to me.
In 2012 the US Department of labor listed palm oil as one of the industries most notorious for forced labor and child labor. In Malaysia alone, it is estimated that between 72,000 and 200,00 stateless children work on palm oil plantations!!!
3. Climate change by destroying the planets "lungs"
As we all know a tree "breathes" in carbon dioxide and "exhales" oxygen. About 30 % of all the carbon we produce by burning fossil fuels is "cleaned" this way by the world's intact forests.Rain forests are especially important in this process as they are able to convert as much carbon each year as all the temperate and boreal forests combined.
Right now we are losing about one acre of rain forest per second.....
Not only are we losing these "oxygen-producers", due to the burning down of the trees this deforestation produces as many emissions as those from transportation all over the world...meaning it pollutes as much as all the cars, trucks, airplanes, ships and trains together worldwide. Indonesia is the third biggest contributor to greenhouse gases "just" from burning down it's rain forest.
To make matters worse, the rain forest grows on organically rich peat land. This peat land needs to be drained in order for the palm trees to grow, which causes the loss of this rich organic matter AND significant carbon emissions.
Were you aware of this last time you ate a Hershey bar
or munched on a Ritz Cracker?
This is tough stuff, what can we do?
- supporting organizations like RAN (Rainforest Action Network) and Greenpeace
- get informed about the topic (see links below for further info)
- raise awareness, inform you family, relatives, friends and coworkers about it
- vote with our wallet. Now that you know, just look at the ingredients list of whatever you are intending to buy...if it lists palm oil, put it back on the shelf. If we stand together we can make a difference.
Think about it!!!
Resources for this blog and more information can be found here: