Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Palm oil

9 September 2020

The UK government has proposed a new law that would require large businesses to prove that their supply chains for commodities (including beef, cocoa, palm oil and soya) do not contain products that have been produced on illegally deforested land. The proposals would cover commodities embedded within other products, such as animals fed on soy or palm oil used as an ingredient.

27 August 2020

According to this article from POLITICO, dairy farmers in West Africa are being undercut by exports of “fat-filled milk powder” from the European Union. This product is a blend of dairy whey left over from processes such as butter manufacture and vegetable fats such as palm oil. 

14 July 2020

According to this paper, coconut oil cultivation puts a much greater number of species at risk per million tonnes of oil than other oils, including palm oil, despite narratives about the environmental impacts of oils usually focusing on deforestation caused by palm oil cultivation.

23 June 2020

FCRN member Susannah Fleiss is the lead author of this paper, which finds that setting aside areas of forest (conservation set-asides) within oil palm plantations plays a vital role in storing carbon and boosting rainforest biodiversity within plantations.

26 May 2020

This paper reviews the environmental, economic and social consequences of the oil palm boom. It finds that palm oil has increased incomes, generated employment and reduced poverty at the same time as causing deforestation and biodiversity loss. It discusses policy options to reduce the tradeoffs between environmental protection and economic benefits.

7 April 2020

This report from the Global Resource Initiative Taskforce, commissioned by the UK government, looks at how the UK can reduce the climate and environmental impacts related to its import and consumption of beef and leather, cocoa, palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber, soya and timber. 

10 February 2020

This report from NGO Friends of the Earth Europe examines how European demand for beef, soy (as animal feed) and palm oil is linked to deforestation in the Global South. It outlines the limitations of sustainability certification schemes, and makes policy proposals that focus on food sovereignty.

3 February 2020

In this podcast from the World Resources Institute, Andika Putraditama (sustainable commodities and business manager at WRI Indonesia) discusses how buyers have responded to certified sustainable palm oil. Some prefer to avoid palm oil altogether. Putraditama argues that encouraging certified palm oil would incentivise the palm oil industry to change its practices.

9 December 2019

According to this study of oil palm plantations in Colombia, converting pasture to oil palm plantation is almost carbon neutral, because declines in soil organic carbon are offset by gains in oil palm biomass over a period of several decades. The authors argue that planting oil palm on former pasture land is preferable to converting rainforest to plantations, as regards greenhouse gas emissions.

2 December 2019

This podcast, part of the BBC programme The Food Chain, explores initiatives that hope to change how palm oil is produced. It outlines some of the environmental and social issues associated with conventional palm oil production, and discusses a smallholder certification scheme in the Sabah region of Malaysian Borneo.

11 November 2019

The initial results of an experiment on palm oil plantations in Sumatra, Indonesia, suggests that using less fertiliser on palm oil plantations and controlling weeds through mechanical weeding instead of herbicide use could be beneficial both ecologically and economically.

8 May 2019

The impacts of palm oil plantations on human wellbeing depend on context and are neither uniformly negative nor positive, finds this study of villages in Indonesia. Oil palm plantations are more likely to lead to improved basic, physical and financial well-being in villages with relatively low existing forest cover and where most people make a living by producing goods for market, compared to villages with higher forest cover and where most people have subsistence-based livelihoods.

16 April 2019

This report explains several trends and issues impacting the edible fats and oils system, including increasing demand, land use, public health, climate impacts, restrictions on trans fats, the search for alternatives to palm oil and soy, and supply chain transparency.

16 April 2019

FCRN member Samuel Smith of international sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future has contributed to this report, which sets out the case for organisations to act on the sustainability of all the fats and oils in their supply chains, including but not limited to palm oil.

29 October 2018

This paper searched for areas of land in Africa where palm oil could be cultivated productively with minimal impact on primate populations. The results showed that such areas are rare: the areas that are suitable for growing palm oil also tend to be areas where primates are highly vulnerable.

17 July 2018

A recent paper assesses the carbon implications of converting Indonesian rainforests to oil palm monocultures, rubber monocultures or rubber agroforestry systems (known as “jungle rubber”). It finds that carbon losses are greatest from oil palm plantations and lowest from jungle rubber systems, in all cases being mainly from loss of aboveground carbon stocks. The paper points out that, “Thorough assessments of land-use impacts on resources such as biodiversity, nutrients, and water must complement this synthesis on C but are still not available.”

21 May 2018

This paper outlines the difficulties of governing the complex global palm oil supply chain, examines the narratives around the environmental and social sustainability of palm oil and analyses how power dynamics create a fragmented governance structure for palm oil. The author concludes that the palm oil industry has created a narrative in which only “unsustainable” palm oil production is to blame for negative environmental and social effects, and in which “sustainable” palm oil - and an increase in its production - is presented as being beneficial for conservation and local communities.​

Pages