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Palm Oil

and the planet!

One monocrop causing devastation to the world is palm oil. Huge areas of rainforests are cut down and replaced by plantations of oil palm trees.

An area of rainforest the size of the UK was replaced with oil palm between 1990 and 2015. (Source: Greenpeace)

Palm oil is a very versatile oil. It is found in over 60% processed supermarket products. It is found in food, beauty products and cleaning products. Away from the supermarkets, it is used in animal feed and as a biofuel. The amount of palm oil that can be produced from a hectare of land can produce six times as much vegetable oil than a hectare of sunflower oil or rapeseed. It is a wonder ingredient!

But because it’s so cheap and abundant, we’re using more than we need and wasting it without much thought, which is costing us a horrific price that many of us do not appreciate yet!

Photo taken at the Eden Project, Cornwall.

Palm oil has made food more affordable. This comes at a cost to the planet and to our health.

  • Palm oil plantations are devastating wildlife habitats killing species unique to the area.
  • Rainforests and peatland is burned releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  • Smoke from the burning reaches nearby towns and cities causing people to become ill and some having to go to hospital.
  • The palm oil plantations are almost devoid of any wildlife.
  • Palm oil is in many convenience food making them cheaper to buy and contributing to people becoming overweight or obese.
  • Palm oil is contributing to food wastage as food is so cheap.

Greenpeace – 5 problems with sustainable palm oil

Ensia – How did palm oil become such a problem?

Two very good radio programmes explaining the problem with palm oil: