Consider the palm fruit, Wolf Eiserhardt from the Royal Botanical Garden says
he’s spent his career studying palms and he understands their clear economic appeal.
“We can get about four tons per hectare of oil from those palm trees,
ten times as much as other major oil crops like olive seed, soy bean.
And because of that, it is one of the most profitable land uses in the human tropics for where it grows.”
It is becoming so popular chosen up in almost everything from Nutella and candy to lipstick and toothpaste and the demand is growing.
“The problem is the growing global demand on vegetable oil production and this demand is growing by three to four percent a year.”
But last week of Food Safety Agency in Europe reported that if palm oil gets too hot,
it can release what it called a potentially carcinogenic contaminant.
But the group did not recommend banning its use.
Researchers say the bigger problem is that palm oil trees grow in the tropics that is led to massive clear cutting,
which is devastating the habitats of all kinds of species ranging from the orangutan to the tiger.
“All the palm oil production takes place in the areas that would otherwise that would naturally be tropical rainforest,
which is known as the most biodiverse ecosystem to rest ecosystem on Earth.”
But Eiserhardt says that problem is solvable, and genetics is the answer.
“There is a very active scientific community working on the genetic improvement of oil palm by breeding.”
Until then experts say demand will continue to rise and that puts more pressure on tropical rainforests already at risk.
Kevin Enochs, VOA News, Washington.
Cheap, Plentiful Palm Oil Comes at a Price