Palm oil plagues many products Humanity’s addiction could wipe out own species


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Many of the products we purchase while grocery shopping, from ice cream to shampoo, are very likely to contain the ingredient of palm oil. This oil is extracted from the fruit of oil palms native to Africa.

 Humankind’s obsession with palm oil could eventually drive themselves to extinction.

    The African oil palm that are farmed for oil are now mainly grown in Indonesia and Malaysia, though palm oil plantations are also expanding in west and central Africa, as well as in Latin America. This has resulted in mass deforestation which further threatens many species and subspecies that are already endangered, if not critically endangered, including but not limited to the Bornean orangutan, Sumatran elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, and crested black macaque.

   “Palm oil production is also responsible for human rights violations as corporations often forcefully remove Indigenous Peoples and rural communities from their lands. Tragically, child labor and modern day slavery still occur on plantations in both Indonesia and Malaysia,” says Rainforest Action Network.

    Furthermore, the deforestation helps accelerate anthropogenic climate change, at a time when a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stating humanity has only 12 years left to act on manmade climate change has been published only a few months ago (source: CleanTechnica).

    After learning about the horrifying truth behind palm oil, an obvious question would obviously pop up in one’s head: How can palm oil and the mass deforestation that is caused by it be stopped? Firstly, while buying products with the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification may seem like a tempting solution, it is not enough.

    According to Nathan E. Jones of Rainforest Action Network, “Some folks have pointed out that Mars, for example, says that it buys RSPO-certified palm oil. But the RSPO still certifies as “sustainable” the palm oil from companies like Indofood, accused of rainforest destruction, human rights abuses, worker exploitation (including child labor), climate pollution….in other words, NOT sustainable.” Boycotting products containing palm oil won’t be much help either.

     This isn’t just because about of all packaged products in grocery stores contain palm oil. It’s also the case that palm oil-free products tend to cost more than their palm oil counterparts, which can be very problematic for many, especially since, according to an article from TheGuardian written by Robert Reich, “Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.”

   How can palm oil and the mass deforestation that is caused by it be stopped?” Governments must be stepping in to stop the use of palm oil altogether and ban it. Individual action to stop oil isn’t enough. “Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report.” says Tess Riley from TheGuardian. Furthermore, banning palm oil would not just be greatly beneficial to the planet, but to the health of many, as palm oil is commonly used in snack foods and sweets such as cookies.

   However, many companies that use palm oil in their products, such as Nestle and PepsiCo, have also bought out and corrupted many politicians into ignoring the issue via campaign contributions, an example being PepsiCo donating $5,400 to New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D).

      Furthermore, a anti-palm oil commercial by Greenpeace was banned from airing on British television during the 2018 holiday season as it was “too political.” according to Imogen Blake of The Sun. In order to end the influence of companies that used palm oil on our government, a Constitutional amendment that abolishes the influence of money in our political system must be ratified.  

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Palm oil plagues many products Humanity’s addiction could wipe out own species