Palm Oil and its Environmental, Social, and Health Impacts
Palm Oil is an oil that comes from the African Oil Palm plant. The African Oil Palm plant needs tropical conditions to grow. It is a widely favoured ingredient in both the food and cosmetics industry and is now the second largest oil crop. It can be in anything from the blush you use to the licorice you eat. Recently, it has been experimented for use as a biofuel, regardless of the fact that studies have shown that using palm oil-based diesel actually increases green house emissions. Due to extreme demand, tropical forest in Borneo, Sumatra, Indonesia, and the Amazon are cleared to be made into large oil palm plantations. According to Say No to Palm Oil, an area the size of 300 football fields is cleared every hour in Borneo and Sumatra to create more palm oil plantations. To clear these lands, the forests are usually either burned, or cut down for timber to sell for a hefty dollar as fine hardwood. The water table and local waterways are also effected by palm oil plantations as harmful pesticides and herbicides are heavily used.
The palm oil industry also affects the local people as many rely on the forests for their livelihood. Also, land for oil palm plantations is usually not compensated for fairly or just taken from the local peoples. Though the industry creates more jobs, it is questioned as to if it provides fair wages, if they actually employ local people, and if working conditions are suitable. Most of those questionable factors, highly unlikely.
More than 90 of the endangered Orangutan’s habitat has been demolished to be turned to land for palm oil plantations. According The Sumatran Orangutan Society, over the past hundred years the number of orangutans living in Sumatra has gone from 315,000 to less than 7,000.
In 1997-1998, an estimated 8000 orangutans were killed from massive forest fires in Borneo set to clear land for palm oil plantations.
SOS reports that orangutans may be extinct within 50 years due to the rapid pace of lost habitat.
Other animals such as the Asian Rhinoceros, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sun Bear, Pygmy Elephant, Proboscis Monkey, and Sumatran Tiger have also been heavily impacted by the palm oil industry.
The consumption of palm oil is also linked to adverse health effects. It is high in saturated fat and low in polyunsaturated fat. The World Health Organization has urged the public to avoid saturated fat in their diet as it is linked to heart disease. Unfortunately, it is not currently required for companies to label palm oil on their products. Roughly 50% of packaged foods contain palm oil, so start reading your labels! Palm oil can be disguised by other words in the ingredient list, common other names for palm oil include: palmitate, cetyl palmitate, palmate, hydrated palm glycerides, and sodium lauryl or laureth sulphates. It can also be hidden behind a more generalized ingredient name such as vegetable oil.
The Best Ways to Take Action Against Palm Oil:
- Be an informed consumer, known what names to look for on labels.
- Look specifically for cosmetics and foods that don’t contain palm oil, they’re out there, you just have to look.
- Spread the word. Inform friends and family, most people don’t even know what palm oil is, never mind is impact on the planet and their health!
At Full Bloom Naturals, we do not use palm oil in any of our products. Though it is a cheap, natural oil, we do not want to support this disastrous industry. Check out our products and feel confident that none contain any traces of palm oil.