By Deborah Bassett
Conservationists were outraged recently when the TV personality “Dr. Oz” launched his January 3, 2013 show by focusing on Red Palm Fruit Oil, saying it may be his most miraculous find in 2013. He may as well been endorsing orangutan blood. Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Orangutan Outreach have teamed up to get Dr. Oz to retract his statement promoting palm oil by creating a joint petition which they are urging concerned citizens to sign and share far and wide. Comments may also be left on Dr. Oz’s website and Facebook pages.
According to the Orangutan Outreach website:
“Dr. Oz and his staff should have done more research before recommending palm oil”. In doing so, he has inadvertently declared war on orangutans- along with every other living creature in the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra!”
The forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only place where the last remaining populations of orangutans live on Earth. The cultivation of palm oil has directly led to the brutal deaths of thousands of these gentle and highly intelligent beings, the closest of kin to homo sapien, sharing 98% of our DNA. As the palm oil industry has expanded into previously undisturbed areas of rainforest, it is directly responsible for the systematic genocide of orangutans who, as a result, are heading down a fast track towards extinction. Although the palm oil industry continues do everything in its devious power to keep its dirty little secret under wraps.
According to Orangutan Outreach Founder and Director Richard Zimmerman:
“The Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil industries have hired high-end lobbyists in Washington DC to gain influence in the US congress and hoodwink the American people into thinking palm oil is ‘good’ for them. Like all lobbyists these people have an agenda- and they are NOT telling the complete story.”
Although its origins lie in West Africa, 90% of the global supply of palm oil today comes from Indonesia and Malaysia–a statistic which has carried a devastating environmental impact. During the burning of the forest the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere ranks Indonesia only 3rd behind China and US in carbon emissions. The UNEP estimates that Indonesia forests are being cleared at a rate of 6 football fields per minute every minute of every day!
According to Zimmerman:
“When the forest is cleared in order to make room for oil palm plantations, every living creature is captured or killed. Adult orangutans are shot on sight. These peaceful, sentient beings are beaten, burned, mutilated, tortured and often eaten. Babies are torn off their dying mothers so they can be sold on the black market as illegal pets to wealthy families who see them as status symbols of their own power and prestige. This has been documented time and again.”
The award winning film, GREEN is available for free download and offers a first hand account of the cruel devastation caused by the palm oil industry though the eyes of a female orangutan vicitm. (Warning: do not expect to walk away with dry eyes.)
Lastly, do not allow yourself to be deceived by the palm oil industry! The Rainforest Action Network has put together a very useful list of other names for palm oil-derived ingredients. Please be sure to check the back of the box at the grocery store–you may be surprised to find that palm oil is hiding in numerous products under various aliases.
PKO – Palm Kernel Oil
PKO fractionations: Palm Kernel Stearin (PKs); Palm Kernel Olein (PKOo)
PHPKO – Partially hydrogenated Palm Oil
FP(K)O – Fractionated Palm Oil
OPKO – Organic Palm Kernel Oil
Palmitate – Vitamin A or Asorbyl Palmitate (NOTE: Vitamin A Palmitate is a very common ingredient in breakfast cereals and we have confirmed 100% of the samples we’ve investigated to be derived from palm oil)
Sodium Laureth Sulphate (Can also be from coconut)
Sodium Lauryl Sulphates (can also be from ricinus oil)
Sodium dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
Chemicals which contain palm oil
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (coconut and/or palm)
Hydrated palm glycerides
Sodium isostearoyl lactylaye (derived from vegetable stearic acid)
Cetyl palmitate and octyl palmitate (names with palmitate at the end are usually derived from palm oil, but as in the case of Vitamin A Palmitate, very rarely a company will use a different vegetable oil)
Deborah Bassett is an environmental activist and journalist focused on endangered species and wildlife conservation. www.deborahbassett.com
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com