It is the story of the loss of habitat, of all animal life and premature death. The swamp forests of the Leuser ecosystem are home to most of Sumatra’s orangutans, and Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world, thrives in its rainforests.
Four million indigenous people depend on their water supplies and food for the forests to be intact. The biggest enemy: deforestation because of palm oil. Most of the palm oil plantations have been set up illegally because there is no permit in protected areas.
Opaque supplier networks, cleared rainforests and the associated lost habitats of endangered species: 85 percent of the world’s palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia.
Palm oil is a profitable business worth $ 50 billion a year for Malaysia and Indonesia. By 2020, sales should even rise to USD 88 billion. In response to growing global demand, companies are looking for ways to increase production. Malaysia and Indonesia have tried to do this by increasing yields per hectare.
More than 60 million tons of it are consumed worldwide every year. Palm oil increasingly serves as a substitute for harmful trans fats and as a bio-alternative for various petroleum products. It has become a billion dollar business. But only very few people know that they even eat it. Many have never heard of it.
Fortunately and unexpected, the EU Parliament is planning to ban palm oil in biodiesel, Malaysia and Indonesia announced punitive measures against countries that want to boycott palm oil. The draft EU law aims to ban all palm oil biofuel imports by 2021, a measure that compares Malaysia to “crop apartheid”, and Indonesia has promised to avenge itself.
The European Commission, the EU’s main executive body, still needs to draft a final bill. Each of the EU’s 27 national governments must ratify the ban before it is enforced uniformly.
But already France is shooting across and has meanwhile, according to Asia Times promised to oppose the EU ban and has praised the cooperation with Malaysia.
Above all, France and the UK offer to sell fighter jets to Malaysia, an armaments order worth more than 2 billion US dollars.
Indonesia buys armaments from Germany and was granted 555 million euros in development aid in 2015, despite massive human rights violations.
In addition, Italy and Spain belong to the largest producers of palm oil diesel in Europe and therefore there is a further economic interest against an ambitious reduction or even a ban of palmoil.
Shortly after the decision of the European Parliament in January 2018 to ban palm oil in biofuels from 2021, thousands of plantation farmers took to the streets of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur. Supported by the government, which spoke of “unfair practices” and a “trade war”.
Malaysia is the second largest exporter of palm oil after Indonesia, with both countries currently covering more than 80 percent of the world market. Reason enough for the Malaysian plantation minister Datuk Seri Mah to drum for the controversial oil.
The Indonesian authorities have already vowed to limit European imports as a retaliatory measure.
Minister of Primary Industries Mah has gone further and has threatened to respond with “force and tact” by withdrawing from upcoming free trade talks with the EU.
While Indonesian President Joko Widodo promised to protect the last nature reserves, horror images have been shown over the world and are showing, what palm oil does, and that even being cleared in the middle of the swamp forests of the Leuser ecosystem. Since then, the protests around the world are increasing.
The Indonesian constitution protects – at least on paper – the tropical rainforest and declares it a “National Strategy Area for its environmental function”.
Nevertheless, huge amounts of land are cleared and used for the palm oil industry. Indonesia produces about 45% of the world’s palm oil, which is used extensively in food and cosmetics, but also in increasing demand for fuel.
My Comment: . Palm oil is not cultivated by small farmers but by large international corporations. The peasants are robbed only of the land on which they can later work as auxiliary workers.
A recent report shows what happens to people when palm oil is grown:
They are imprisoned, tortured or murdered. In the Indonesian province of Papua everyone lives dangerously, who opposes the authorities. Serious human rights violations are on the agenda – and the world community takes little notice.
Between Sorong and Manokwari in the Indonesian western part of the island of New Guinea, the population is being expelled from their land to build huge palm oil plantations and exploit precious minerals like gold – with serious social and environmental consequences. Anyone who protests, take a high risk, said a human rights activist.
Indonesia has already lost 75 percent of its rainforest, according to the BOS Foundation. According to forecasts by the United Nations Environment Program, by 2022, 98% of the forests will have disappeared.
Two million hectares per year are cleared or burned. About 88% of the wood comes from illegal impact.
Many consumers are unaware that cheap vegetable oil is not only ecologically questionable through rainforest deforestation and plantation cultivation, but that there are more and more reproaches from a health point of view: from the possible rise in cholesterol to the suspicion of cancer.
But what causes palm oil – from land grabbing to murder, from the extermination of many species of animals and especially the orangutans – we have reported several times. Nevertheless, many Nutella smear on bread and buy ready meals and sweets, biscuits and cosmetics that contain palm oil.
Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) says, “When the big companies go to these areas, they’ll cut down the biggest trees and then shave off what’s left – with machines or by fire. They kill all life there, including ants. Most orangutans die as well. I often refer to them as survivors of an apocalyptic wave, but they are also refugees. “
Our travel-loving EU parliamentarians should one fly over Malaysia Sumatra and spend hours watching palm oil monocultures and the burning forests, then even the most stupid be clear what the EU has done.
Best regards, Venus