The Inhuman side of Palm Oil
Growing up, one of my early realized morals was to respect nature, save the trees, and preserve all habitat life, including the tropical rainforests of the world, but a new threat that has them pretty much endangered is palm oil production. Palm Oil was decided in the 1980’s to be the new trans-fat in our food to replace “unhealthier” options, however, as I have pointed out in my blog about palm oil, and now that new “heathier” fat has taken over, not only our beautiful and diverse forests, but the people who call those nations home.
Empiricism is a word that comes to mind. Another is a phrase, “abuse of power”. It is the developed nations who are directly responsible for disrupting and completely changing the lives of the indigenous people. The people of nations, like Indonesia and Malaysia, have for, generations, lived happy and sustainable lives all because of the rain forests bio-diversity of types of fruits and other foods they are able to gather and enjoy. Those indigenous people did not cause damage to the rainforest, they only gathered what they needed and left the rest alone. Now, those who were once free, are now, essentially, slaves to the already established nations, so that those nations can have more abundantly, the “healthier” trans-fat in their diet.
From sustainability to reliance, this is how the indigenous people’s lives have transformed. Instead of the freedom to do with what they want with their lives they are now forced to work for the Palm Oil industry, receiving such low-income levels that many find it very difficult to support their families. What is worse is the conditions of which they have to work in. Not only have their daily lives been taken away, but taken from them as well. As one man, Din Perulak, the chief of Sumatarn tribe, Orang Rimba Sumtra said in an interview with the activists at Say No to Palm Oil, “I am so unhappy about these gigantic new Palm Oil plantations. Our forest, which we, Orang Rimga, have gathered fruit, which has sustained us, has completely disappeared. There are plantations everywhere. I ask you, how are we supposed to survive when there is not forest anymore?” That is a serious statement and question, one that transcends to people all over the planet.
Another link palm oil has to people is to human right violations, further into child labor. “Children are made to carry large loads of heavy fruit, weed fields, and spend hours every day bent over collecting fruit from the plantation floor. Heat exhaustion, cuts and bruises from climbing thorny oil palms are common place in these cases, and more often than not, children receive little or no pay for their efforts.” (230 Interactive). Companies try to hide this abuse through a confidential 75% industry-governed voluntary certification system: The round table in sustainable palm oil. This RSPO stamp is meant for the assurance for consumers that the plantations are conflict palm oil free, however many of these stamps are giving consumers a false sense or assurance. In a 2013 report, Empty Assurance, the spectrum of abuse is much worse. Not only is there serious exploitation in the palm oil supply chain, but there is not proven guarantee for the industry’s ethical certification. “The International Labor Rights Forum and Sawit Watch oversaw ‘on-the-ground realities RSPO certified palm oil plantations in Indonesia, the investigation included site visits and worker interviews, “we found serious human rights abuses at each of the three plantations they include, ‘labor trafficking, child labor, unprotected work with hazardous chemicals, and hazardous contracts.” (ILRF). These are all things no parent would ever allow their child to get mixed up in, but when your life is no longer your own, but you depend deeply on the company that hurt you the most, there are not too many options, if any, left. This is about survival for them now, even if it is on a product that people do not actually need, but just want for economic and cost-effective reasons. As you go through the grocery store for food and such, please consider what saying no to palm oil would mean for so many children and indigenous people alike.
Activist. “Palm Oil.” Say No To Palm Oil | What’s The Issue, 230 Interactive, 1 Jan. 2017, saynotopalmoil.com/Whats_the_issue.php.
Forum, International Labor Rights. “International Labor Rights Forum.” Palm Oil | International Labor Rights Forum, International Labor Rights Forum, 1 Jan. 2017, www.laborrights.org/industries/palm-oil