The production and processing of palm oil is unfortunately associated with many ecologically and socially unjust practices. From the eviction of indigenous people from their land to deforestation, forest fires and methane release from dried peat-lands that fuel climate change. Fertilizer and herbicide run-off combined with erosion lead to polluted water ways and when palm oil is used in food, it has such a high saturated fat content that even the Australian Heart Foundation recommend it should be avoided.
The large scale production of Palm Oil causes many inter-related environmental, social and economic problems. The main issues are summarised below:-
- Land ownership conflicts
- Forced evictions of indigenous people from their customary land.
- Fuelling climate change and deforestation.
- Habitat destruction and pushing species towards extinction.
- Social conflicts over jobs, land and livelihoods.
- Water Pollution from chemical inputs, mill effluent and erosion runoff.
- Smallholder grower debt.
- Health concerns from palm oil’s high saturated fat content which is linked to heart disease.
- Labelling regulations that sees palm oil labeled as vegetable oil on ingredients lists.
- Growth in biofuel production where palm oil is a major biofuel feedstock (input).
- Round Table On Sustainable Palm Oil. RSPO certified palm oil, may be a step forward in improving the palm oil industry, but the weaknesses in the standard may result in more deforestation, habitat destruction, social conflict whilst providing palm oil companies the ability to promote themselves as green and acting sustainably.
Read on for more details about the issues or take action now to help prevent some of these problems.
Issues in detail
Issues and problems caused by palm oil production are numerous, interrelated, and span the of environmental, social and economic themes. Please consider visiting our related sites and links to gain a full understanding of the issues which are summarised below.