SGO: Why is palm oil a threat?

Palm oil is a threat to you, to me, to the rain forest, to orangutans, to the world. Why? Because it is one of the hardest things to avoid, as it can be found in most processed meals and household products and it has many negative effects. The palm oil industry is a goldmine for big corporations because it is cheap and it helps them make more money, which is why palm oil is so widely spread and why you can find it in almost everything we buy from supermarkets.

Firstly, even though palm oil is advertised as a healthy, vegetable oil, it is high in saturated fats, which are associated with coronary heart disease and high cholesterol levels which increase the risk of heart diseases and stroke. Not to mention that in order to obtain palm kernel oil, which is made from the pit, not from the fruit of the palm oil, the oil is extracted using a gasoline-like hydrocarbon agent- does this sound healthy to you?

Secondly, palm oil represents one of the world’s leading causes of rain forest destruction in order to gain space for the plantation of palm trees. This is bad for at least two main reasons. One of the reasons is the fact that rain forests, are unique homes to many exotic species of plants and animals and they produce 20% of the worlds oxygen, even if they cover only 7% of the earth’s surface. Therefore, cutting down rain forests is like cutting down on our oxygen. Another reason for which rain forest deforestation is bad is because it puts one of the world’s most endangered species, the orangutan, at risk. Orangutans spend about 90% of their lives in trees and as the palm oil destroys their only natural habitat, tropical lowland rain forests of the Asian islands of Sumatra and Borneo, orangutans who are not killed in this process remain homeless, starving or orphaned. Moreover, the orangutans who wonder around the palm oil plantations are killed as they are considered pests to the agriculture, even if the Bornean orangutan are endangered species and the Sumatran orangutan is considered a critically endangered species.

Even though companies are required by law to write a product’s ingredients on its label, usually palm oil is often sneaked in as “vegetable oil” or under scientific names that most of us wouldn’t understand. So when in doubt, just insert the unknown term in your search engine and see if it is good for you or for the planet. Also, to avoid palm oil, definitely avoid products which contain anything palm related and avoid products which do not label the oil they use clearly and look for the ones which do write 100% sunflower oil, or 100% olive oil and so on.

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