The Mainstream Media Spreads the Word about Palm Oil

posted by Josh Ran

It has been an amazing few weeks for media about palm oil. Three articles, from the Sacramento Bee, the NYTimes, and highlighted the problems with the expansion of palm oil in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Sacramento Bee article highlighted the role of palm oil in habitat destruction in Indonesia– underlining the threat to orangutans and other endangered species, as well as to local communities. Our own Rainforest Ag campaign director, Leila Salazar-Lopez, was quoted as saying “How can (palm oil) be sustainable if it’s causing so much destruction?”. Too true.

The front page, above the fold, New York Times article covered the effect that the rising price of palm oil– driven by consumption both of frying oil and biodiesel– has had for the food security of poor communities around the world. Palm oil is used every day for frying in many developing countries, and families are forced to forgo buying meat and vegetables in order to pay for the oil. Its an important problem, and it is good to see that the problems of palm oil are getting the prominent placement that they deserve!

Last but not least, reported on the environmental effect of palm oil plantations, and how the expansion of palm oil plantations for biofuels threatens community land rights, remaining intact forests, and worsens water shortages. They also draw the connection to global warming, acknowledging that biofuels do more harm than good in terms of carbon emissions.

Great to see that the media has begun to pick up on all the many, many problems with palm oil, and that they are spreading the world. Lets hope ADM, Bunge, and Cargill are reading.