Bogs and Blogs
Guest blog by Amy Gallagher
Today I’m going to talk about Palm Oil, something I knew very little about until recently. Palm oil has always been seen as a controversial issue, however lately it has been drawn into the spotlight after the banned Iceland ad which promoted the fact that their products are free from the oil.
Demand for palm oil is growing exponentially due to the fact that it is high yielding, versatile and cheap. It uses less land to produce the same volume of vegetable oil than that of many alternatives. So many ask the question why do conservationists hate palm oil so much?
Conservationists are not against the oil itself, but deforestation. The exponential growth in the market, is contributing directly to the continued destruction of tropical rainforests in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. This is having a devastating affect on the local and global ecosystem.
From the Iceland ad the plight of the orangutan is highlighted with 25 orangutans being killed by palm oil deforestation every day. However, the Orangutan is not the only animal endanger of becoming extinct in these tropical rainforests. Two other species that are seeing rapid declines due to palm deforestation are the Borneo Elephant and Sumatran Tiger.
It is not just the animals that are suffering due to the high demand for palm oil. Tropical deforestation accounts for about 10% of total global emissions (UCS 2013). The Green House Gas emissions from palm-driven land use change is so large they are contributing significantly to global warming.
It is possible to produce palm oil sustainably however currently businesses are not supporting sustainable production because consumers are not demanding it. By buying products with the RSPO logo as seen on the right, we can encourage companies to switch to sustainable palm oil.
The oil is a valuable commodity that is used in many supermarket items including bread, cereal, chocolate and margarine. It is also used in many personal products like shampoo, make up, cleaning products and bio fuel. Although it is very useful product, we must be ethical consumers and question where products come from and what effect it is having on the environment.
The oil can be produced in a sustainable way that can benefit the environment and the impoverished farmers in these LEDCs that rely on Palm plantations as a livelihood. But for organisations like the RSPO to make a real difference, consumers must step up like they did for fair trade, and support the production of sustainable Palm oil.
I have attached a link to the Iceland ad and a link to a website on how to avoid products with Palm Oil. I hope you enjoyed this post and will try and support companies and brands that support sustainable palm oil production!