Monday, April 21, 2008

Palm Oil - Jekyll or Hyde?

Back in the 1970s Malaysia started to introduce palm oil plantations, stripping out virgin jungle in places like Johore (north of Singapore) and planting vast rows of saplings.  Which soon grew into trees laden with fruit.  This was slash and burn agriculture and of course today it's on the increase.
Palm Oil Plantation, Malaysia
Somewhere at home we have a Malaysian Airlines System cook book that espouses the use of high chloresterol palm oil for every day cuisine.  Personally I prefer to live longer with a Mediterranean diet!  That seemed to be an important use for palm oil back then.  Today the new and critical use for palm oil is in biofuels and, because this is part of the green initiative to save the planet, the planting of many more palm oil plantations is under way.

So the situation has come wherein Greenpeace cannot easily decide whether to love or hate the palm oil plantation.  On the one hand it provides biofuel, on the other hand it removes vast areas of habitat for aboriginal people, orang utans and many other species.

So Greenpeace is staging a protest against Unilever today, complete with people dressed in orang utan suits.

Dr. Hyde yesterday, Mr. Jekyll today.  The life cycle of palm oil!