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There is no denying that palm oil gets a lot of bad press…and rightly so! There is no other vegetable oil on the planet that shows up in such a vast array of consumer goods, making consumers unknowingly complicit in horrific crimes against animals, people, and the environment. In fact, according to Palm Oil Consumers Action, most Americans “have never heard of palm oil,” let alone understand the complex global conflicts its production has created!

This is why raising awareness about how palm oil production is harming the planet, animals, and people alike is so, so important.

There are sustainable methods for producing palm oil that do not involve deforestation, human rights abuses, or animal deaths. It is just a matter of holding corporations accountable for making positive change. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has set bold guidelines to help reform the palm oil industry, promoting transparency, fair labor, and strict environmental standards. However, there are still a number of problems in implementing and regulating the RSPO standards and some corporations that have joined the Roundtable have yet to actually adopt better practices.

This is where you come in. As a greater awareness is brought to the injustices of palm oil production, there is a greater push for change. By reading and sharing these facts about palm oil, you are helping to educate the many consumers that still do not know that they eat palm oil everyday. Making informed consumer decisions is an amazing way to influence corporations to change for the better. So start reading and share with everyone you know!

The Facts

1. Palm oil is high in saturated fat. One tablespoon of palm oil contains 55 percent of the daily recommendation of saturated fat.

2. Up to 300 football fields of forest are cleared every HOUR to make room for palm plantations.

3. In the past 10 years, the orangutan population has decreased by 50 percent as the result of habitat loss from forest clearing for palm plantations.

4. There are only 6,300 Sumatran orangutans left. It is estimated that 1,000 orangutans are killed a year, a major factor in these deaths being forest clearing for palm production. In 2006, at least 1,500 orangutans were clubbed to death by palm workers.

5. Clearing one hectare (about two square acres) of peat forest can release 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Indonesia has currently cleared around six million hectares of tropical peat forest…they have plans to expand by four million more hectares by 2015.

6. In Indonesia, the palm oil industry is responsible for about 5,000 land and human rights conflicts. Nearly 45 million people live in the forests of Indonesia. In 2011, Wilmar (one of the world’s largest palm oil producers) bulldozers ransacked an entire village, destroying 40 homes to clear 40,000 hectares of land for a palm plantation.

7. Only 35 percent of palm growers that are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil are actually certified by the RSPO. Meaning the other 65 percent pay to be “members,” but have taken no action to adhere to the RSPO guidelines in their growing practices.

8. Palm oil ranks among the U.S. Department of Labor’s top four worst industries for forced and child labor. This 2013 article by Benjamin Skinner, illustrates the deep seeds of human rights abuses prevalent in the palm industry.

9. RSPO standards allow growers to plant on peat lands and to clear secondary forests. Tropical peat lands store up to 10 times more carbon than “mineral soil,” meaning draining and planting on peat lands is up to 10 times more detrimental to the environment.

10. Palm oil development allows easy access for poachers into exposed habitats that have been cleared for plantations. As the result, it is estimated that the Sumatran tiger population will be extinct in LESS than three years if nothing is done to protect their habitat or combat poachers.

What You Can Do

Image source: Marco Schmidt / Wikipedia Commons

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19 comments on “Top 10 Facts You NEED to Know about Palm Oil”

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2 Years Ago

We need to spread the word about this useless product that has destroyed much of the rainforests in Borneo and Sumatra and is now on a path to be one of Africa\'s biggest threats to wildness. Check out AfricaInside for more on the Palm Oil issue.

3 Years Ago


3 Years Ago

This is silly. Have you guys never considered the economic growth the villagers attain from the cultivation of palm oil? How else would Indonesia raise its economic growth or GDP from villagers living in the rain forest? What about the fact that palm oil represents 38% of the world\'s supply of edible oils but ONLY GROWN in 5% of the land dedicated to oil seeds. Oil palm yields 4 to 10 times more than its competitors too; ultimately in the long term our demand for edible oils IS BETTER MET WITH PALM OIL. Your facts are one sided and definitely biased. You should consider ultimately which oil is best served in serving world hunger. No offense to Orangutans, but would you rather have Africans starving to death or Orangutans? GO MAKE A TOP 10 FACTS WHY PALM OIL IS GOOD. I\'m sure your able to find more than 10.

18 May 2015

I\'m sorry, how does it help Africans from starving to death? Palm oil is used in processed junk foods mostly, NOT in staple foods used to feed the hungry. There are other side effects other than just orangutans and animals dying (as stated in this article), the CO2 emissions are reason enough to not consume or support palm oil. Though based on your arguments you probably could care less.
When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

Mark Stevenson
3 Years Ago

Right up there with coffee.

Janice Lynn Breeze
3 Years Ago

Ah...it was coconut palm sugar...thank you for the info, One Green Planet. If the tree gives for the sugar, it can't produce coconuts.

Janice Lynn Breeze
3 Years Ago

...I just learned about palm sugar ... Apparently, it is made in a way similar to maple syrup/sugar. So, the trees are not destroyed (?). What about this?

3 Years Ago

Global Warming is a problem created by Whitemen since 1751. "Climate Change" and "Deforestation" are just contemporary re-branded old problems. Deforestation is another rich White man\'s dilemma: to save a poor human or orangutan? True to its racism, he/she chose to save an animal, because the human is non-white (brown). But does not mind saving a brown furry animal? Speechless.

Enrique Garcia
3 Years Ago

apart from being Bad for your Health?

Sarah Mayer
3 Years Ago

Suzanne Mayer

Sue Rolfe
3 Years Ago

Boycott Girl Scout Cookies too. They refuse to stop using palm oil.


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