Palm oil is used in many things from chips and baked goods to shampoo and cleaning products to an oil used for cooking. It is the most widley used vegetable oil in the world. It even sounds healthier because it’s different from GMO vegetable oil like canola. It comes from a palm fruit grown on an African oil palm tree so what could be unhealthy, harmful, or unsustainable about that? Well it’s contributing to the death of thousands of orangutans and many other animals who live in the forests. Not to mention, it’s affecting the indigenous people and the environment.
An area of forest equal to 300 soccer fields is beings destroyed every hour for the purpose of growing oil palms.
Palm oil is grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America and South America. This industry of exporting palm oil is not sustainable. Producing palm oil is linked to major issues like deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, and animal cruelty. Many animals throughout the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra are injured, killed and displaced. The forests must be cleared for the development of palm oil and this is done by setting fire to the land which destroys not only their home, but leads to many of the animals burning to death. The deforestation also increases access to the animals for poachers and wildlife smugglers (who capture for pets, medicinal uses, or body parts).
Some orangutans are even shot by plantation owners or farmers because the animals are viewed as ‘pests.’
Orangutans live on these Indonesian islands and the palm oil industry is one of the main contributors to the dramatic reduction of orangutan populations. Orangutans live in areas with fertile lowland soils, close to rivers and therefore their habitat is seen as ideal for growing the oil palm.
HOW CAN WE HELP
Europe is aware when palm oil is an ingredient in their store-bought food, but the U.S. is still left in the dark. EU law on food information to consumers (FIC) means that there is no hidden ingredients under generic titles, such as palm oil written as vegetable oil. If Europe can pass this law, why can’t the rest of us? We must lobby for palm oil to be labelled as well so we can choose which products to buy.
Also, here is a petition to sign to demand only sustainable palm oil: Save Orangutans
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