Palm oil controversies
However, despite its business qualitites, palm oil production has a HUGE impact on the environment and the local communities in its production countries (mostly Indonesia and Malaysia such as:
- On the Environment:
· To make room for palm oil plantations, agri business companies are clearing tropical forests at an alarming rate, even though it might be illegal in some cases. According to a report by the European Commission, palm oil production is responsible for 8%% of deforestation worldwide and 40% in Indonesia alone, which is home to one of the three greatest and oldest rain forests on earth (the other two being the Amazon and the Congo Bassin)
· Moreover, vast areas of peatlands (carbon-rich swamps) are being cleared to make way for palm oil plantations, something through burning. This releases huge amounts of carbon dioxyde into the atmosphere which is responsible for climate change. This has made Indonesia the third largest global emitter of greenhouse gases.
2. On biodiversity:
· The large scale deforestation to make room of plantations are causing loss of habitat for sometimes critically endangered species including the orang outan, sumatran elephants and tigers but also dozens of others
· In the past 10 years, the orang outan population has decreased by 50% as the result of habitat loss
· The replacement of dense tropical forests with plantations increases the accessibility of animals to poachers and human-wildlife conflicts with local villagers. Thousands are killed each year and the killing of adults often leads to babies being sold as pets or used for entertainment in neighboring countries
3. On local communities:
· Some companies have been ceizing the land of indigenous communities with sometimes the complicity of local government to turn them into palm oil concessions
· Moreover, the industry has been linked to major human rights violations such as child labor, exposure to hazardous chemicals, unpaid overtime, pressure on employees etc.
· The Free, Prior and Informed Consent policy possesses by many companies is often non applied and dozens of land disputes are ongoing throughout Malaysia and Indonesia