LGVN Animals / Environment - Orangutans
oil ... The Ape Killer.
dissapearing rain forests of borneo and sumatra
and environmental welfare organisations call on consumers to question
products containing palm oil which destroys Orangutan habitats.
food shoppers are unwittingly causing the extinction of rain forest
animals such as the much-loved Orangutan.
One in ten of supermarket products contain palm oil; from foods
like bread, crisps and chocolate to cosmetics, soaps, shampoos and
toothpaste. Most mass-produced palm oil is responsible for the accelerated
destruction of precious rain forests in Malaysia and Indonesia,
home to the Orangutan. Around 5,000 of these intelligent apes are
being driven from their unique habitats in Borneo and Sumatra each
year, as loggers make way for palm oil plantations.
Orangutans and other animals wander dazed and confused across the
tree-flattened areas, while plantation workers butcher the frightened
apes with machetes or even burn and bury them alive. Hundreds of
orphaned babies are also left alone to die or sold in the illegal
At the current rate of destruction, it's expected that orangutans
could be extinct in ten years, along with their forest habitat.
Friends of the Earth have recently reported on the current state
of corruption and political greed existing in Borneo. Researchers
say that forest fires, deliberately set by palm oil companies since
1998, have now killed around one third of the orangutan population.
Friends of the Earth also say that the Indonesian Government is
planning to convert a significant area of Tanjung Puting National
Park, the world's most famous protected area for orangutan, into
an oil-palm plantation.
Animal Welfare group, Ape Alliance, represent organisations such
as the Borneo Survival Foundation and Safe Palm Oil. They have websites
that are appealing to the public to write to supermarket CEO's,
asking them to stop palm oil sourced from environmentally destructive
plantations being used in the products they sell. Safe Palm Oil
also has a sample letter for consumers to download and post or hand
in to shops, supermarkets and manufacturers.
The animal and environmental website VeggieGlobal also has a support
page that draws together web linked information to help consumers
take urgent action. A spokesperson for VeggieGlobal says, "Palm
oil is used in most savoury snack foods and chocolate, which should
give the consumer an idea of how serious the problem is, since millions
of packets of crisp type snacks and sweets are eaten daily".
In the 1980's a welfare campaign forced many food manufacturers
to change their sourcing of tuna fish, because careless fishing
methods were also killing dolphins that get caught up in nets.
VeggieGlobal says, "If you were making conscious efforts to buy
"dolphin friendly" tins of tuna, then it's now time to think twice
before buying foods or cosmetics containing palm oil which could
be destroying entire forests and all the animals living there. In
the end, it's the consumer who carries the responsibility as well
as the power to stop such atrocities. If you ignore an ethical issue
as important as this, it means that unscrupulous plantation growers
will continue to provide manufacturers with ingredients that destroy
habitats on a global scale. So ask questions. When the ingredients
on a product include vegetable oil, it may be that that this includes
palm oil, so find out where it comes from. A shop manager will probably
have no idea, but persist and make sure your question is logged.
And if you don't get a satisfactory answer, don't buy the product"
VeggieGlobal also adds, "It's just like the Brazilian rain forest
destruction, where areas the size of Portugal are unnecessarily
lost each year to soy plantations. The rich growers couldn't care
less about the environmental costs, and the paradox is that ordinary
farm land is available to produce palm oil and soy beans. It's purely
a question of high yield profits, because growers pay much less
for felled forest land, or in many cases the forest is illegally
logged and claimed for plantation. These countries clearly need
to provide strong incentives to steer growers towards non-destructive
means. Until then these practices will continue as long as manufacturers
and consumers create the demand for unethically sourced ingredients"
To help and act on this crisis please
visit these action organisations:
Safe Palm Oil (to send a letter)
Save the Orangutan (to send a letter)
Looking-Glass Good Cause Support Page
for full story and links
UK Friends of the Earth archive report
worth reading at... http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/one_in_ten_supermarket_pro_22092005.html
Young Orangutan photo
top left copyright Friends
of the Earth
and VeggieGlobal News Copyright.
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