We decided to use coconut oil because producing delicious food products is also possible without using palm oil. With coconut oil we pay attention to organic quality and fair trade. Coconut plantations of this kind are not widespread, and we want to support precisely these sustainable plantations with our products.
However, that alone is not enough. If you look around in the supermarket and also in the organic market, you will find palm oil in very many products. But why does palm oil have to be in almost all baked goods? Or in cosmetics? There is only one answer to this - because it is the cheapest oil (as of April 2018: 1 tonne of conventional palm oil 517 euros/1 tonne of conventional rapeseed oil 646 euros). The other argument is the special properties of palm oil, however, in very many products palm oil can be easily replaced.
Ultimately, a major rethink is called for, i.e. we are all challenged to learn to appreciate our local products and to use them wisely.
1. We only use fair and organic coconut oil and, of course, no animal cruelty in the harvesting of coconut oil.
2. Transport emissions are never climate-friendly. Both coconut palms and palm oil plants are grown in the tropics. Transport causes carbon dioxide emissions. Bananas and avocados do not come from Germany either, but we eat them very often. Shouldn‘t we consume more of the local and seasonal-regionally available foods rather than eating exotics every day? However, as is so often the case, the quantity is decisive.
3. The most convincing statements are those of the organization "Save the Rainforest": The organization criticizes above all the use of palm oil in biofuel, but also believes that it is dispensable in consumer goods: „This palm oil can be replaced with domestic vegetable oils. We have plenty of arable land for this. Rape for the production of biodiesel and maize for the production of biogas grow on 2.5 million hectares in Germany. This policy must be corrected immediately and the land used again for the production of food,“ says Schenk.
So the idea is: if the plants grown in this country for biodiesel and biodiesel gas were processed into oil instead, palm oil would become superfluous. However, it does not currently look like the EU wants to stop the burning of vegetable oils in the foreseeable future.
„Save the Rainforest“ does not believe in the success of organic palm oil in the fight against forest destruction: „Organic palm oil plantations are also located on land that was formerly covered by tropical forests,“ says Schenk. He criticizes that organic certifications do not exclude forest clearances and do not limit the size of plantations. „Planting thousands of hectares with industrial monocultures is not organic farming.“ He does not consider the South American organic palm oil producers Daabon and Agropalma credible because they still do their main business with conventional palm oil.
The problem with coconut oil: Use of monkeys for harvesting
Especially in Indonesia, southern Thailand, and Malaysia, macaque monkeys (pig monkeys) are used for coconut harvesting. The animal „staff“ is used wherever the palm trees are too tall and the work is too uneconomical or too dangerous for humans. For the macaques, which are closely related to the rhesus monkeys, the six-hour day applies: they work from 7 to 10 in the morning and from 2 to 5 in the afternoon on palm trees that are up to 25 meters high. There are no rewards. Lazy workers are whipped in the old slave fashion.
Thai dressage has been practiced for several centuries. It corresponds to medieval habits or - which amounts to the same thing here - to the behavior of wild monkey hordes. One- to two-year-old piglets are captured in the jungle and leashed close to the trainer‘s house. At first, the humans gain respect by similar means as a monkey‘s boss: with blows, strangulation by the collar, and threats.
The same points apply here as with conventional coconut oil.
However, organic farming regulations apply to pesticides/fertilizers.
Our research has shown that no monkeys are used on organic plantations.
More on this topic here.
Indonesia is the largest producer of conventionally grown palm oil. Huge amounts of hectares of forest are therefore cleared in Indonesia. Since Indonesia has been relying on palm oil, it also occupies a top position in another list: after the USA and China, the Southeast Asian country is the third-largest producer of carbon dioxide. This is because the cutting down of rainforest trees releases the greenhouse gas stored in the soil into the atmosphere. And the European Union even promotes the cultivation of palm oil: to meet its climate targets, 10 percent of all fuel for road transport must come from renewable sources by 2020 (this year‘s figure is already out of date) - and that includes palm oil. But the bottom line, according to experts, is that palm oil is more harmful to the climate than petroleum.
In his film „LANDRAUB“, director Kurt Langbein has the investment consultant Suriya Moorthy calculate how one can become rich with palm oil. All it takes is a plantation of 10,000 hectares. Moorthy: „You can expect a profit of 38 to 40 million dollars per year.“
Just how powerful the palm oil lobby is could be seen in France. When Ségolène Royal, Environment Minister 2014 to 2017, called for a boycott of Nutella, she was met with harsh wind. The producer of Nutella, Ferrero, pointed out that it has been using sustainably produced palm oil - certified by RSPO - for its spread since 2013. (RSPO = Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil)
Although organic oil palms also grow on plantations, these are usually smaller and in practice are mainly located on land that was previously used for agriculture. Organic palm oil plantations are not located in Southeast Asia, but almost exclusively in South America and are owned by two companies: Daabon in Colombia and Agropalma in Brazil, both conventional palm oil producers and RSPO members.
The EU organic regulation does not explicitly exclude the clearing of forest areas for oil palm cultivation. „But the big organic palm oil producers are also RSPO members (and even POIG founders) and therefore have to prove that they have not destroyed any forest or other areas worth protecting after 2005,“ says Ilka Petersen, a palm oil expert at WWF.
This does not always work in practice by a long shot - but the currently important organic palm oil producers do not seem to have cleared any forests for their organic plantations. The environmental organization „Save the Rainforest“ points out, however, that there is insufficient evidence for this and that some of the organic producers are farming conventionally on the side; clearing cannot be ruled out in this case.
The organic standards do not stipulate any social standards, which means that organic does not necessarily have to be fair. It is theoretically possible that organic producers are involved in land conflicts and human rights violations. „In principle, this cannot be ruled out, as the EU organic regulation does not address this. But for this, the RSPO (and POIG) also covers social aspects,“ explains Petersen from WWF. (POIG - Palm Oil Innovation Group, founded in 2013, aim: innovative, sustainable practices in palm oil cultivation). POIG builds on the principles and criteria of the RSPO, but sets higher ecological and social requirements that are not covered by the RSPO standard).
POIG members include:
Greenpeace, Forest People Programme, Orangutan Land Trust, Ferrero, Danone, L´Oreal, Palm Oil-Companies Agropalma, Daabon, and Musi Mas).