Feb 172013
palm oil

Another little post with pretty pictures about animal rights, which can be forgotten in ten minutes?

What’s to say about Palm Oil? It’s an everyday vegetable oil, It’s promoted highly in the cosmetic industry because it’s rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A and E, it also contains vitamins D and K which are lacking in other oils and all these are factors that make it ideal for your hair or skin.

Palm oil is not just connected to the beauty industry, it is also used as fuel to generate electricity in our power stations. In fact some countries use it as a means of renewable green energy technology under the same tag as wind farms where it reduces greenhouse effect using less gas emissions. The UK for example is offering subsidies to power stations to burn biofuels, one of them being palm oil.

Palm oil plantation at Sepang Malaysia 284x300 Palm Oil

Palm oil plantation at Sepang, Malaysia

So on the face of it everything seems fine. But let’s take a look at some of the negative sides. Going back to the beauty industry, palm oil doesn’t deliver everything you may think. Palm oil is rarely used on its own, it is generally mixed with other ingredients and other oils and even then highly processed. This processing removes much of the benefiting factors, in its healthiest and unrefined form it is a red-orange colour, full of vitamins and rich in carotenoids (which enhance the immune system), but after heavy refining it loses its colour, much of its vitamin content and lacks the carotenoids, losing all nutritional benefit. In fact many experts class it along with Palm Kernel Oil and Coconut oil where you should avoid all together because of its high content in saturated fat.

The increased usage as a green biofuel also has its downside, there is research, that it actually can lead to higher gas emissions, but because of its relatively low price Governments, including the UK see it as a good climate friendly resource. The problem is this multibillion palm oil industry be it cosmetics, fuel, food, detergents or other, is killing the planet quite literally.

flickr.com greenpeace 300x282 Palm Oil

Now I’m not a member of Greenpeace and nowhere near an animal rights activist, although i admire the dedication involved, but a little time looking beyond the beautiful skin advertisements and highly attractive packaging we see every day there lays a huge problem behind Palm Oil products, where to sustain this growing need for palm oil, plantations are replacing natural rainforests in Indonesia at an alarming rate, in fact 80% of rainforest in Borneo has been cleared to facilitate palm oil fruit monoculture along with pulp and wood industry not only decreasing natural emission of oxygen but emitting carbon dioxide due to burning, especially in the logging business, causing increased global warming.

Added to this, Indigenous farmers are being bulldozed aside to make way for the money making machine, where cheap labour and abused workers are also used to clear a destructive path through the natural forests. Apart from the great cost to the environment some of our most fragile species of animals are also being killed, hunted, tortured and sold illegally being seen as pests that hold back the industry advance.

Sumatran Tiger 300x225 Palm Oil


Clouded leopards, Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants, Rhino’s and Orang-utans,some of our most beautiful but threatened species are under great threat from remaining safe in their natural habitat because of this flippant disregard for nature. The Orang-utan for example at one time ranged throughout much of Asia from South Java to Northern China, now they can only be found on the Islands of Borneo and Sumatra, even here they are absent from large areas and live in remote sections of untouched forest or far and few protected areas. The Orang-utan is Asia’s only great ape, but industry, by way of logging and palm oil plantations will eventually see the demise through to extinction of these fabulous animals.



So, another little post with pretty pictures about animal rights which can be forgotten in ten minutes? But these concerns are very serious indeed, and I personally take them to heart, not only because of environmental issues but because I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy the natural beauty of these precious animals that reside in forests that have been in perfect balance for millions of years. When they are gone, they are gone! And we can either look back at our shameful deforestation that fed our vanity for a while, or actually put a halt to us being the most savage of primates.

Some things that you can do to help;

Try avoiding beauty products that contain Palm Oil (not an easy task as sometimes hidden under different names) read the label, or ask.

Enrol yourself in any petitions against Palm Oil being used as Biofuels.

Spread the word, educate your family or friends about the real environmental cost of products using Palm Oil, and the false claims of benefits after refining.

Spend some time on further reading, here and here.

Tweet or Facebook, form recognition.

Chip in to one of the organizations helping to fight hands on such as,

Orang-utan Foundation International

Rainforest Action Network

World Wildlife Fund

morguefile.com kabir 1024x680 Palm Oil


 Bornean orang-utan facts:

  • The orang-utan is Asia’s only great ape.
  • Adult orang-utans are largely solitary
  • The bond between a mother orang-utan and her young is very strong
  • Fruit makes up the bulk of an orang-utan’s diet, however other items include leaves, flowers, pith, fungi, honey, termites, small mammals and birds’ eggs
  • The largest Bornean orang-utan population is now found in the south-western part of Borneo
  • Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working to conserve orang-utans in and around Borneo’s Gunung Palung National Park, home to the world’s largest orang-utan population along with clouded leopards, sun bears, and proboscis monkeys.

flickr.com/Just chaos’ photostream/Marufish/morguefile.com kabir/flickr.com greenpeace

Inspiration/Janice Robinson

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