Friday, 11 June 2010

Palm Oil

I recently came across a website on the internet ( that gave an overview on palm oil, stating key facts about its production and the devastating effects it is having on the environment. I though it key to mention this on here in the hope of spreading the word about what palm is and what it does.

I have taken the liberty to compact all the information on this website into a smaller format which still puts the point across.

So, what is palm oil, well palm oil is obtained from the fruit of the oil palm tree, which contributes to the economic development of most countries around the world.

You will be aware of the uses of palm oil from my previous article on my blog but I came across further products which contain palm oil and these are: margarine, cereals, crisps, sweets and baking goods but it is not just food it is everyday household items for example soaps, washing powder and cosmetics.

The problem begins with the manufacturers who use palm oil and they list it as ‘vegetable oil’ under the list of ingredients so it is therefore disguised. I recently visited an oriental supermarket with a friend near where I live and all of the products which contained palm oil actually said it in the ingredients, which was a big surprise.

On a positive note a recent article produced in The Independent states that Nestle, the worlds biggest food manufacturer is going to make palm oil in its chocolate bars more eco-friendly.

There are 17 countries in the world that produce palm oil, the top 5 nations are Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nigeria and Colombia. Malaysia and Indonesia account for 85% of the palm oil production. One quarter of the palm oil produced worldwide is used domestically while the other three quarters are exported to Asia, the EU and Africa, who are the main importers of palm oil.

Not all palm oil is sustainable, leading to issues with the local biodiversity, soil degradation, local people, land rights and many, many more. New plantations have resulted in large areas of forest being destroyed, which is therefore having significant impacts on the biodiversity.

Orangutan habitats have been threatened by palm oil. In 1900 there were 315,000 individuals in the wild and today there are fewer than 50,000. Unless the devastation of their habitat decreases the orangutans could be driven to extinction within 12 years.

Environmental campaigners are claiming that within 15 years 98% of the Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests will be gone unless drastic action is taken.

Like myself you will probably be asking what the alternatives are, and that is a hard question to answer because it is hard to find any alternatives, soya oil presents similar problems, and there would be a difficulty in producing significant quantities of other oils such as rapeseed or sunflower oil, and animal fats present cholesterol problems. 20% of smallholders rely on growing palm oil as their source of income. The issue here is this: with a growing population there are more mouths to feed and the palm oil tree can be grown in bulk quantities therefore has an important role in feeding the growing planet.

There are many social and environmental activists supporting the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which includes organisations such as Oxfam and the Rainforest Allowance.

The Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) and the Palm Kernel Oil (CSPKO) are produced by palm oil plantations, which comply with the environmental standards, which have been devised by the RSPO. The RSPO was founded in 2003 and aims to spread the environmentally-friendly production on the palm oil.

I strongly think that palm oil is an appalling fix which is destroying the rainforests at an astonishing rate, does any one care? It makes me sick, half the people in the UK couldn't give a damn, giving the lame excuse of "why should we care?" and "who cares if the orang-utans go extinct?" is this really the attitude that we should be having? NO! That is why action needs to be taken to stop this horrible 'craze' so that both people and the environment can live in peace and harmony rather than this constant battle.

People are far too greedy, they couldn't give a damn if the rainforest was destroyed because all they can care about is going to the supermarket and not bothering to check the products they buy. The issue here though is this: most products these days contain palm oil, and it's getting ridiculous, it’s not the people who buy these products who are to blame though it is the companies that are producing and selling these products.

I just wish more people could care about the environment rather than demolishing it at every available opportunity that they have.

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