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Palm oil – can we enjoy it responsibly?

Many organizations advocate for a total ban on palm oil use and import referring to the human rights abuses and environmental destruction.

SEI’s Ekaterina Bessonova and Dr. Rocio A. Diaz-Chavez explain why a boycott is not a solution and why pursuing sustainable palm oil production could be a more productive way forward.

Published on 17 February 2019

The devastating impact of the palm oil industry are well known, from tropical deforestation – to land conflicts – to wildlife loss. But what are the effects of palm oil ban?

Palm oil producer state that “boycotting will only result in suppliers targeting less fussy markets, like India and China.”

Furthermore, palm oil is now so ubiquitous in food and cosmetics that it simply can’t be phased out.

Rocio A. Diaz-Chavez, Deputy Centre Director of SEI Africa, and one of the scientists behind the SEI Initiative on Governing Bioeconomy Pathways, lists the unique benefits of palm oil.

“Palm oil has the highest yields per area of any oil crop. The oils extracted from palm fruit and palm kernel have different physical characteristics, which makes palm oil highly versatile. All these qualities make the crop very productive and profitable for the farmers.” says Rocio.


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