Here at Gardenmandy.com our main focus is to help people grow organic gardens. Part of organic gardening is learning to live in harmony with nature. We do sometimes get a little off the subject of gardening to call attention to other matters. This happens to be one of those times.
While still on the subject of living harmoniously with nature, I want to talk about the harms of Palm Oil.
Right now palm oil is the second, behind soybean, most produced oil in world. It is estimated that within the next five years, palm oil will surpass soybean oil to become the leading vegetable oil produced.
Malaysia and Indonesia are the two leading suppliers of palm oil, contributing 89% to the world’s demand. In the past 20 years the area devoted to plantations has increased by 43%.
What’s causing this great increase?
First, in 2006 the FDA began to require that companies label Trans fat in their products. Knowing that the consumer was aware of the dangers of Trans fat, they needed to switch to a healthier, inexpensive alternative. Well, at least something that seemed healthier. Enter palm oil. While it may not contain any Trans fat, it is high in saturated fat. As we all know, a diet high in saturated fat is bad for our heart and cholesterol.
Next there has been a huge increase in the demand for biofuel. While North and South America get most of their biolfuel from soybean oil, there are a number of countries in Europe who use palm oil. By the year 2020 it is expected that the demand for palm oil will double.
Because of this huge demand, thousands of acres of rainforest are being cut down every year to make way for new plantations. As a result, hundreds of animals are loosing their habit including the endangered Sumatran Tiger, Asian Elephant, Sumatran Rhinoceros and both the Sumatra and Borneo Orangutan.
According to the March/April 2008 issue of Science Illustrated Magazine, if we continue at the current rate of deforestation, 98% of the rainforest in these areas will be destroyed by 2022.
Not only are these animals lives being threaten by loosing their habitat but they are also being tortured and killed when they wander onto plantations looking for food. There have also been reports of bonuses being offered to workers who kill orangutans and behead them.
Just a few of the reports of torture include orangutans having their hands and fingers cut off, being beat to death, gasoline poured on them and being lit on fire, as well as mothers being poached and their babies being sold on the black market. There have even been reports of these animals being used for prostitution and in some cases being buried alive.
The pictures that are provided at this site are both horrific and sickening, but it is happening and we need to be more aware of it. If you don’t know where your palm oil is coming from, odds are you are unknowingly contributing. Now you do know so you can do something about it.
On top of loosing their habitat to both plantations and out of control fires that are burned to prepare the land, being tortured and being poached, pesticides that are used for the palm kernel are seeping into their water supply.
In all fairness to the people of Indonesia and Malaysia, they are just trying to provide for their families.
However, there are better ways to achieve this. There are a number of companies and organizations, including The World Wildlife Fund, that are involved in The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil. They are setting standards which must be met for sustainable palm oil. This is a huge step in stopping the destruction of rainforest and precious ecosystems.
However, until this method is perfected and widely accepted, we all need to do our part. I encourage you all to visit http://redapes.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/bospalm_oil_report.pdf for extremely helpful tips including, making your local grocery stores aware of this issue, and raising awareness in your community.
Plus, they provide many other suggestions for what you can do to help save the lives of our close cousin, the orangutan.
If we do not stop the destruction of rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia, estimates conclude the orangutan will be extinct in 10 years! As it is now there are 15 times more deer in the state of Colorado alone than there are orangutans in the world.
Before you purchase anything, that package of cookies, chips, ice cream, cereal, laundry detergent, lotion, even shampoo, look at the ingredients. Chances are you will find palm oil listed. It is becoming a staple of our food and soap products, but orangutans are paying for it with their lives.
We can do something to help! Thousands of lives depend on it.