Bad trade and bad products are killing our planet. We have said this before on The Thin End. There is no better example than that of palm oil. It is used ubiquitously in so many products, and its production is a major factor destroying rainforests and threatening precious species.
Demand for palm oil is 'skyrocketing worldwide'. It is used in packaging and in so much of our snack foods, cookies, crackers, chocolate products, instant noodles, cereals, and doughnuts, and the list goes on.
Bad for the planet
So, why is this so bad for the planet?
The oil is extracted from the fruit of the oil palms native to Africa. It is now grown primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia, but is also expanding across Central and West Africa and Latin America.
Palm oil production is now one of the world's leading causes of rainforest destruction, and this is impacting adversely some of the world's most culturally and biologically diverse ecosystems. Irreplaceable wildlife species like the Sumatran Rhino, Sumatran Elephant and the Sumatran and Bornean orangutan are being driven to the brink of extinction.
Oil palm plantations currently cover more than 27 million hectares of the Earth’s surface. Forests and human settlements have been destroyed to produce “green deserts”. With the loss of forests, the habitats for many species are destroyed.
Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Action Network runs a palm oil campaign, raising awareness of the issues with the goal to "fundamentally change the global marketplace". As a result, RAN has placed mounting pressure on companies, and has coined the now widely used term "Conflict Palm Oil."
The clearing of rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands for new plantations is significantly increasing carbon pollution. Palm Oil is a major driver of human induced climate change.
As RAN says
The crisis caused by Conflict Palm Oil is urgent and the stakes are high.
So what to do? It isn't the palm oil itself that is the problem. It is the irresponsible, unregulated pillaging of precious ecosystems that is at the heart of the problem. It risks killing our planet to feed the global market. And with cheaper and cheaper products on the back of miserable conditions for those working the land. It destroys communities as it pushes them aside to take more land for exploitation.
We could support petitions calling for regulation such as this one: