The Problem in the Palms of Our Hands
By Rose Hanson
Palm Oil is in products ranging from ice cream to laundry detergent and even lipstick. Growing and processing palm oil is destroying third world countries as well as the environment. For example, hundreds of sacred rain forests have been destroyed in places such as Indonesia, South America, West Africa, and Australia, just to name a few. The palm oil industry is a big one, as in 50 billion dollars a year big. With monetary means on their side, government regulators and local environmentalists have been bribed to keep silent about these practices. This topic is kept under wraps, so most BCC students have no idea the extent of the problem.
Oxfam, a global organization that works to fight against injustices, states that in Peru, the big banks and corporations who own the palm oil plantations are destroying indigenous people’s language and culture by forcing them off of the land that they have owned for hundreds of years.
Similarly, in South East Asia, many residents of the forest are facing problems such as flooding and irrigation issues due to this deforestation.
Liberal media outlets have spoken out against the corruption happening in many of these countries. Their stories covering the growing list of concerns regarding palm oil are important, but working alongside local protesters who are spreading awareness about the plantation conditions, in addition to the environmental consequences palm oil induces, could reach a much larger population, rather than just those who have access to big media outlets.
In the town of Aceh in Indonesia, some residents have fought back against corporations by stealing an excavator from a company and lighting it on fire.
While Indonesia is one of the largest producers of palm oil, companies are beginning to see a shift towards more production in South America. According to Oxfam, the area of South East Asia doesn’t have much continuous land, considering a lot of it is comprised of islands. Places like Peru however, have the ideal specifications for palm oil: heat, humidity, and large land. In a study conducted by the Latin American Science Organization, two groups hold as much as one third of the entire palm oil production in Peru. Since more than sixty to eighty percent of the world’s palm oil comes from illegal establishments worldwide, this means more than 150 million hectares of endangered forests could be affected.
As consumers of these goods, we must view our money as votes. When our money goes to companies and corporations who support practices that are detrimental to our planet, we become unconscious consumers. If this doesn’t stop, Florida could be underwater within the next twenty years. Children will have to wear masks to avoid breathing in harmful smog. Death to the Amazon because of palm oil could cause death to oxygen in that entire area of the world.
As students of BCC, by understanding research and choosing unprocessed products that don’t contain palm oil, we can reduce the damage to the planet and work together to prevent the harmful effects of the palm oil industry.