A-Z Animals Palm Oil Campaign & Petition

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Palm Oil Campaign

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18,045

Palm Oil Information

The History

Palm oil has been used in cooking, particularly throughout South-East Asia, for hundreds of years, but it is not until recent decades that the palm industry has really been causing problems. Palm oil comes from the fruits of the palm oil trees, which contain 50% oil meaning that you get more oil out of one palm fruit than you would from many handfuls of olives, which naturally makes palm oil quite cheap as a product. This has led to increased buying of palm oil to use in products all around the world, which has in turn led to more and more palm oil plantations going up in places where jungle and forest would have once been home to numerous different species.
 

Today

Despite everything, palm oil itself isn't too bad when it is produced in a monitored and sustainable way, but it is the fact that most palm oil is produced illegally that causes many of the problems. When farmers illegally clear land to make way for palm oil plantations, they often end up destroying natural peat-lands that have been storing carbon dioxide for centuries. When disturbed, the peat releases the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which along with factors such as global transportation, means that the palm oil trade is responsible for up to 10% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. Not only this, but one in ten of the products found on the shelves in your local supermarket are thought to contain palm oil, although many companies are actually unable to tell you exactly where that palm oil has come from (and that's only if you have established that it has been misleadingly named as 'vegetable oil' in the first place).
 

Environmental Concerns

Although this is all happening thousands of miles away, it is actually one of our closest living relatives that will pay the ultimate price for our selfish behaviour. Wild orang-utan populations in both Borneo and Sumatra have been rapidly declining, particularly over recent years as the palm oil industry has gotten bigger. Illegal palm oil plantations destroy the forest home where the orang-utans and other animals live, not only taking their safety, but often their lives. Hundreds of thousands of orang-utans have either been killed or captured over the years by farmers who are producing a product that is primarily used by us. It is thought that orang-utans could be extinct in the wild within the next ten years if we do nothing to stop this. The palm oil industry also has an enormous impact on other environmental factors such as deforestation and pollution, not to mention the fact that palm oil isn't exactly good for your health.
 

Sustainability

So many people are talking about the sustainability of the palm oil industry and emphasising that companies only source palm oil that has been produced in a sustainable way. But what does this mean? The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), was set up to encourage the growth and use of sustainable palm oil worldwide, meaning that palm oil can only gain a certification of sustainability if it has been produced in such a way where no undue harm has come to the environment or society as a whole. Despite huge initiatives to get people growing palm oil sustainably, only 1% of the sustainable palm oil produced is actually being bought by companies, mainly due to the fact that it is a touch more expensive than palm oil that has been grown illegally. Many companies don't even know where their palm oil has actually come from, let alone whether or not it has been produced in a sustainable manner.
 

The Future

As it stands at the moment, the palm oil industry is growing at an alarming rate, meaning that we don't have long before even larger areas of natural habitat have been cleared to make way for these enormous plantations. Although, organisations such as RSPO are obviously helping to get things back on track, it is much more of a long term plan. We need to do something now before it's too late and we lose some of the most unique and beautiful species our planet has ever seen. We have the right to chose whether or not we want to be a part of an industry that is condemning illegal activity on a global scale. Now is our chance to make a difference. Sign our petition today to ensure that companies under European Legislation are forced to state clearly if their products contain palm oil.
 

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