From shampoo to peanut butter to cookies, palm oil is a top ingredient also disguised as vegetable oil, OPKO .¨ Organic Palm Kernel Oil and Palmitate .¨ Vitamin A or Asorbyl Palmitate (a very common ingredient in breakfast cereals derived from palm oil). According to reuters.com, on More than 80% of palm oil is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia. An area of the rainforest the size of Greece is cleared every year for palm oil plantations. 90% of rainforests have been burned to the ground and destroyed to plant the African palm plant to harvest its oil because of the demand of palm oil to make everyday products. Rainforests are the home to orangutans and thousands of other endangered species including our world’s last remaining 3,200 wild tigers according to the telegraph.co.uk. More than 28% of the world’s oxygen is produced from our rainforests. More than half of the world’s estimated 10 million species of plants, animals and insects live in our rainforests.
Without the protection of the orangutan’s natural rainforest habitat they cannot survive. According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUNC), during the past decade the orangutan population has decreased by approximately 50% in the wild. This is primarily due to human activities including rainforest destruction for palm oil plantations. At present, 80% of orangutan habitat has been destroyed. Orangutans are a critically endangered species with less than 55,000 orangutans remaining in Borneo and 5,000 killed a year. In Sumatran there are less than 6,300 left and 1,000 being killed a year.
The world needs to collectively make a change so that these amazing creatures don’t become extinct in the very near future.
Animal activist group Peace 4 Animals is asking grocery stores around the world to help save the planet and its animals, by asking their manufacturers, suppliers and vendors to switch oils and to stop making and carrying any products that contain unsustainable palm oil. It’s that easy.
That was the message from Peace 4 Animals founder Katie Cleary towards major grocery store chains Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Ralphs in an effort to protect the rainforest and its orangutans and stop the sale of products containing unsustainable palm oil. This is an uphill battle that Katie Cleary has taken on before. In 2011, she was one of the leaders to pass the Fur Free West Hollywood bill to ban all fur products in West Hollywood, despite resistance from brand name fashion companies, which charge thousands of dollars for fur products. Most of these fur products come from China where there is no regulation on fur and the torture the animals go through in the name of fashion and vanity. The Fur Free West Hollywood Bill, passed on September 21, 2011.
The animal rights group Borneo Orangutan Survival recently reported that rainforests are being cleared at the rate of 300 football fields per hour to make way for palm oil plantations. While there are millions of hectares of degraded land that could be used for plantations, many palm oil companies choose to instead use rainforest land to gain additional profits by logging the timber first. CNN reported in March 2013 that Palm Oil companies also frequently use uncontrolled burning to clear the land, resulting in thousands of orangutans being burned to death. Those that survive have nowhere to live and nothing left to eat. Orangutans are some of our closest relatives, sharing approximately 97% of their DNA with humans. In the deforestation process, orangutans are often run over by logging machinery, beaten to death, buried alive or set on fire. Orangutans that wander into palm oil plantations are considered to be agricultural pests, because they have the potential to damage palm oil crops. In order to get rid of them, a bounty is often put on the orangutan’s head. If a female orangutan is found carrying a baby, the mother will be killed and the baby taken and kept as a pet, or sold in the illegal black market pet trade and in some cases shipped overseas, often within Asia, or sometimes even the United States.
There is a simple alternative to palm oil, though. Companies can source other Rainforest Alliance Certified Oils such as: sunflower oil, hemp seed oil, cotton-seed oil
coconut oil, but unfortunately
none are as cheap as palm oil which
“We have the opportunity in 2014 to save our rainforest and its orangutans,” said Katie Cleary. “Consumers around the world can speak up and demand that their local grocery stores do something to protect our planet and its animals. Trader Joe’s, Ralphs and Whole Foods could literally change history and stop the imminent extinction of orangutans and the destruction of our rainforests if they cared enough to stand up and do something. If consumers knew the truth they would not buy products containing unsustainable palm oil and as long as consumers don’t know, supermarkets will continue to sell products containing unsustainable palm oil if it makes them money. Major grocery store chains could set the stage across America and the world with the message that we will not allow the destruction and extinction of our world and its animals! It’s that simple!”
According to an article on Yahoo News called “The Dangerous Ingredient You’re Eating .¨ and Don’t Even Know It” by Gretel H. Schueller, palm oil is not good for our environment and it’s not good for us either. This
widely-used vegetable oil is
high in saturated fat,
therefore a potential health risk.
Due to its high saturated fat content, palm
level and raises blood pressure,
therefore a key contributing factor to
obesity. These four health issues are the main causes of one of
the world’s biggest killers: cardiovascular disease
(also known as heart disease).
extremely common disease claims
one life every two seconds. Palm oil is also high in Omega 6 fatty acid, which is associated with arthritis, inflammation, and even breast cancer.
Katie Cleary’s documentary “Give Me Shelter” highlights the palm oil industry and orangutans as well as many of the world’s most important animal issues, but she warns, “Please don’t wait to see the movie when you can do something now! Look at labels and don’t buy products containing unsustainable palm oil. If there is no demand, there is no supply and that is how we will save orangutans and our world.”