A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Palm oil diet helps save dying species

According to Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia (BOSA), roughly 50 percent of all supermarket goods contain an ingredient called palm oil. It is a vegetable oil that comes from the mesocarp of the fruit of the oil palms. Oil palms are found in hot, damp rainforests. An oil palm is a tall tree that orangutan monkeys inhabit. These trees play a huge part in an orangutan’s survival and health.


When trees are harvested in America to make things such as paper products and lumber, more trees are planted to replace the ones that we cut down. As time goes on, those trees grow to full size, and then we cut them down to use them, and the cycle continues.


The difference between us using our trees for paper products and lumber and the use of palm oils is that these trees take decades to grow into habitable size. So, when we cut down an oil palm, orangutans lose their home. This is leading to the endangerment of the orangutan species, and if the loss of oil palms continue, it could lead to extinction.


According to Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia, the single greatest threat to orangutans is habitat loss.


The reason that palm oil is used so widely really boils down to the corporations trying to make their products with more convenience and less cost. According to BOSA, palm oil is more cost effective for corporations to use than coconut oil. The difference between the two is that the use of coconut oil does not lead to the endangerment to any species.


Palm oil companies in places like Indonesia and Malaysia have created plantations in order to “keep the primary forests alive” and to “help the orangutans”. Although this is a good thought, it does not make things better. These companies still take trees from the primary forests for their plantations, and when starving orangutans come searching for food in those plantations, they are often killed brutally for being “pests”. This has to end.


Unfortunately, palm oil use is growing. Not only is it used in supermarket products, but palm oil is also being used as a biofuel for transportation purposes or burnt in power stations for electricity. While biofuels can help our issue with climate change by focusing away from the use of fossil fuels, palm oil use still indirectly kills orangutans. Do not let the greedy corporations fool you. They are not using palm oil to save the environment – they are using palm oil and killing orangutans to reduce their expenses

and in turn make more profit.  


It is completely immoral for billionaires to capitalize on the endangerment of another living being. The line between business and morality needs to be drawn, and we need to save the orangutans.