Palm oil, between human rights and environmental damage

L'Palm oilhe is the protagonist of various debates in the nutritional and environmental fields. Animal rights activists have always pointed to thePalm oilas the cause of the death of orangutans, environmentalists see inPalm oilan excellent ally of deforestation and climate change. From a food point of view, thePalm oil it is not considered so healthy but, putting aside the health point of view, let's see the objective damage caused by the industrial production ofPalm oil.

L'Palm oilit is contained in our favorite snacks, biscuits, mottini, chocolate and various snacks. Thus an internal conflict arises "i should eat foods rich in Palm oil financing the destruction of the rainforest? ”.As you think about it, we tell you that the production ofPalm oilit is causing the loss of green areas, in particular it is destroying the rainforest of Southeast Asia, the natural habitat of the lovable orangutans.

While theenvironmental impactsof the industrial production ofPalm oilare well known and documented, when it comes to human rights, there is little research conducted. Fortunately, human rights have not been overlooked by everyone and a report drawn up by Bloomberg Businessweek contains the results of a nine-month investigation.

The industry ofPalm oilit doesn't look noble at all. THEenvironmental damagehave consequences onclimate changeand seriously undermine the preservation of Southeast Asian rainforest biodiversity. To support theenvironmental damagethey also put thehuman rights violations.The Bloomberg Businessweek Report states thatamong the approximately 3.7 million workers in the sector, there are thousands of child workers.Working conditions are added to child exploitation:workers have to face situations of danger and abuse.The report even speaks of a sort of "slavery".

In the nine-month investigation, Bloomberg's team observed various cases and among them reported the story of a nineteen-year-old Indonesian who, together with his cousin, left his home to go to work in a palm oil plantation. The boy had accepted the foreman's offer: a pay of six dollars a day to drive the trucks. Six dollars a day represents a minimum wage in Borneo (where the plantation was located). If the agreements had been kept, perhaps the fate of the two boys would have been different. As reported by the Report, during the journey the foreman forced the boys to sign an employment contract that bound them to a gross pay of 5 dollars a day. The boys never even received this salary when they protested to leavepalm oil plantation, the employers (the report states that it is Kuala Lumpur Kepong, a Malaysian multinational -KLK-) prevented the boys from leaving. In short, once you enter thepalm oil plantationthe boys found themselves in a sort of condition of slavery where they received only $ 16 a month and where they were forced to work for 2 years. At the end of the two years the boys were able to abandon the plantation, incidentally they escaped! After the intervention of some organizations, including the Rainforest Action Network, KLK officials apologized to the two boys and promised to return the agreed wages.

The testimony of the boys is not the only one. At the Berau plantation, owned by another local shareholder, appalling testimonies were collected from at least 95 workers who were forced to work in inhumane conditions for a minimum of two years. The workers' quarters consist of windowless barracks. According to Menapak, an NGO serving the environment, those who work in palm oil plantationshe is forced to drink standing water because the supplies of fresh water given to the workers last no more than a week a month.

What is the work about?
Some workers are brought atpalm oil plantationsto carry out administrative, accounting or transport work. Unfortunately, a few days later they find themselves cutting, planting and doing other heavy work without a minimum of protection. A worker had to spread at least 20 50 kg bags offertilizer. The workers were forced to work with paraquat, a substance that is extremely harmful to human health and the environment (it is aherbicidebanned in at least 32 countries, China became the 33rd country to ban this substance last April).

Video: How can palm oil be more sustainable? The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and WWFs role in it (October 2020).