Friday, 14 May 2010

Panorama on Palm Oil

Daddy dearest recorded a programme on the plights of the Bornean rainforest for me whilst I was away. I didn’t actually learn much about it whilst I was there as there is a restriction on the media (environmental activists and journalists have previously been deported for investigating the subject too closely), but I did see mass deforestation and logging during our travelling time from project to project. The programme was set in Indonesian Borneo, whereas I was in Malaysian Borneo for the 10 weeks, however deforestation for palm oil plantations occurs in both countries on a huge scale.

Palm oil is a massive industry, earning Indonesia £5bn a year. It’s the cheapest oil on the market and is in many of our household products including soaps (even from The Body Shop), cakes, Kit Kats, the breadcrumbs of fish-fingers...the list goes on. Often it is disguised as ‘vegetable oil’ (e.g. in Flora margarine), so we are not even aware it is in these products. The reality is that only 3% of the world’s palm oil is sustainable and some of the plantations are developed illegally on protected areas. According to the United Nations Environmental Programme, the Bornean rainforest is the orang-utans natural habitat and this is just one creature that is endangered due to the deforestation.

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