Californian environmental organisation, the Rainforest Action Network has released an emotive video to promote awareness on the realities of unsustainable palm oil production.
The video which spans just under two and a half minutes depicts a young hearing impaired girl communicating with an organutan, one of the world’s most intelligent primates, through sign language over skype.
After a brief polite conversation, the organutan, named Strawberry picks up a banana and tells the young girl, Lena, that this is the food that it eats. Strawberry then asks Lena what her favourite food to eat is.
Lena goes to her cupboard and pulls out a jar of peanut butter. Strawberry then asks Lena what peanut butter is and what it is made of.
“Peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt,” Lena communicates.
Strawberry’s mood instantly turn sober. She stares downward briefly, then looks up at Lena.
“Your food is destroying my home,” communicates Strawberry.
“Organutans cannot speak for themselves,” says a voiceover, the first human voice to be heard in the video. “But if they could, they would tell us that much of the palm oil used in America’s snack food is being grown by cutting down rainforests that are orangutans only home.”
The video is part of a campaign by the Rainforest Action Network called “In your Palm” and encourages consumers to avoid foods containing palm oil.
Palm oil is the world’s most widely used edible oil with an estimated 50 percent of products on Australian supermarket shelves comprising the ingredient. The widespread popularity of palm oil is due to its attractive price tag and the fact that it promotes a longer shelf life when compared to butter and other oil alternatives.
The controversy surrounding palm oil relates to mass deforestation which is taking place in Malaysia and Indonesia to make way for palm oil plantations, with obvious implications for native species, especially the endangered orangutan.
Consumer awareness of palm oil production has heightened in Australia in recent years resulting in the boycotting of particular foods including hot cross buns from Australian retail giant, Woolworths earlier this year
Woolworths has now committed to only use Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified sustainable palm oil by 2015 in all private label products. The supermarket giant is now a member of the RSPO and has committed to using only certified sustainable palm in their hot cross buns for Easter 2014, following the consumer backlash earlier this year.
Coles, now also a member of RSPO, has made a similar move by committing to use only certified sustainable palm oil in all Coles-branded products by 2015. The retailer said that it has already removed palm oil from some of its bakery products.