Indonesia palm oil: A question of priority
Palm oil production has significantly increased throughout the years. If you’ve been observant, you’ll find that palm oil is a common ingredient in many types of processed foods. Palm oil is likewise a primary ingredient of soaps. Palm oil is the second widely used edible oil, next to soybean oil. Indonesia ranks the second largest producer of palm oil in the world, supplying around 36% of global palm oil production.
Due to its high demand, globally, the Indonesia palm oil industry is continuing its expansion efforts to a point where Indonesia had to sacrifice its natural resources. The Indonesia palm oil industry has been a target of criticisms among activists. While the Indonesia palm oil industry employs a significant percent of the nation’s labor force, its environmental and cultural impacts have been sighted.
Clearing of rainforests had to be done to give way to the Indonesia palm oil industry. Palm oil plantations reduced the natural habitat of some endangered species like orangutans (in Borneo and Sumatra). Indonesia is bestowed with lush rainforests, however, activists fear if the Indonesia palm oil industry goes on unregulated, then we might no longer be able to see orangutans in the wild. Other species in the wild affected by the rapid expansion of Indonesia palm oil plantations are the Sumatran tiger and rhinoceros.
World leaders reaction to President’s Bush call to end “oil addiction” and the proposed use of “biodiesel” has sought for the strong demand of palm oil and consequently to the industry’s rapid growth. With the world now looking at biodiesel as a potent alternative to the depleting fossil fuels, the benefits partly negate the fact that Indonesia palm oil industry has and will have serious environmental impacts.
The recent forest fires in Indonesia have been attributed to the growth in the number of Indonesia palm oil plantations. Furthermore, the dwindling unprotected lowland forests are making developers look at converting peat swamps, which poses more risk of forest fires. When peat is drained, carbon is unlocked from the surface and the oxidation process of carbon ensues, providing more risks of forest fire incidences due to the increase in amounts of carbon dioxide. There is a sheer record of using forest fires to clear rainforests and pave way for Indonesia palm oil plantations.
Apart from Indonesia palm oil production, the consumption of palm oil is now established as one of the cholesterol-elevating agents concomitant with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Palm oil contains a number of saturated fatty acids like lauric acid, myristic acid, and palmitic acid that are harmful for one’s health.