FAQS

Frequently Asked Questions

How you can help

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1. Follow me on social media and my new site (links on right) and share my posts about palm oil and endangered species using the hashtag #Boycott4Wildlife.

2. If you feel these ideas resonate with you, you can contribute art, writing or music to Creatives for Cool Creatures.

3. If you’re a conservationist working in this area and these ideas resonate with you, you can contribute blog posts to the website. See example here

4. If you are a plant-based food blogger or make your own natural products and these ideas resonate with you, you can contribute blog posts to the website.

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Why all the fuss about palm oil?

Palm oil is derived from the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.), which is native to West Africa and grows best in tropical climates with abundant water. Three-quarters of total palm oil produced is used for food, particularly cooking oil and processed oils and fats. It is also used in cosmetics, cleaning products and biofuel.

Oil palm expansion is estimated to impact 54% of threatened mammals and 64% of threatened birds globally.

Palm Oil is a contentious and controversial crop because it has long been associated with slash and burn deforestation which results in the mass elimination of animal and plant species throughout the world from insects and ground-dwelling species unknown to humans all the way to keystone species like rhinos and orangutans. The crop has also been associated with human rights and indigenous rights issues.

To reduce its impacts on biodiversity, palm oil needs to be produced more sustainably by avoiding deforestation and cutting non-food palm oil use.


What is the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)?

The RSPO (Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil) is a global certification body that brings together oil palm producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks, investors, environmental and social non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. The RSPO give palm oil produced to their standards a green tick of approval. This means that certain palm oil is deemed (by their own self-created standards) to be ‘sustainable. This palm oil is then used as an ingredient in many foods.

The RSPO has more than 4,000 members worldwide and represent all links along the palm oil supply chain. Loopholes in RSPO certification mean that members can use palm oil ways that promote deforestation, peatland loss, and human and labour rights violations. This came to light in a joint statement by a group of NGOs including Greenpeace in 2019. Extensive reporting by palm oil industry watchdogs such as Greenpeace, Environmental Investigation Agency, Chain Reaction Research and Rainforest Action Network have uncovered extensive greenwashing in the RSPO. Read more


Why do you focus only on animals and deforestation in Palm Oil Detectives?

Yes, there are human rights, land rights and indigenous rights issues associated with palm oil as well. However, this is true for all illegal and unethical land-grabbing activities for other commodities like gold, coal and timber. Plenty of airtime is given to these problems by activists and lobbying groups.

Palm oil is yet another conflict commodity. Lobbyists from both sides fight hard from their corner: 1. Ban palm oil completely and 2. Palm oil is harmless and sustainable. Social media is flooded with biased information from both of these sides. What happens is the real battle is being forgotten. The battle for the animals and their natural environments, the land they need for survival and the land the entire planet needs for survival.

Animals have stories, memories, experiences and if we just shut up for a while and listen – we will be able to hear them.

Thus far in the palm oil debate, animals have only been used as pawns in a political and economic juggernaut that tries to score points either for or against the palm oil industry. The deforestation of the world to make way for oil palm, soy and beef is why all of us are staring down the barrel of a mass extinction event. This website is therefore a way to not speak for animals….but to speak using their voices, to celebrate and commiserate with them, to bond with them.

Long before the human world got in the way, animals were our kin, our blood, our eyes and ears, our gods and goddesses and our friends. They understood and loved us for who we are. Now it’s time for us to love and protect them, before it’s too late.

The species endangered by palm oil deforestation are sentient, intelligent and emotional beings that deserve to have a voice of their own. What better way than to involve artists, writers, musicians, photographers and conservationists to tell the first person stories of animals facing the end of their existence?

What better way to sound the alarm than with a riot of colour, inspiration and dynamic consumer change?


What are the differences between types of RSPO certified palm oils?

Many large food manufacturers around the world have joined the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an initiative spearheaded by WWF that encourages RSPO members (brands, mills, processors) to buy palm oil from sustainable sources. Yet there is a huge difference between how they define ‘sustainable’ for palm oil.

Identity Preserved Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is oil that’s 100% certified sustainable, and fully traceable to a single source. Considered the most sustainable form of palm oil.

Segregated CSPO: Palm oil that’s 100% certified sustainable from mixed sources. Considered the second most sustainable form of palm oil.

Mass balance is a combination of certified and uncertified palm oil.

Book and Claim/GreenPalm: A trading scheme. Certificates are purchased by the brand to offset their usage of uncertified palm oil. Companies that purchase certificates can make the claim of being ‘sustainable’ – yet the oil itself from this supply option isn’t certified sustainable.

Of the four supply chain models above, only Identity Preserved and Segregated palm oil can be traced back to their sources.

Using these above forms of palm oil, retail brands gain a green tick of approval from the RSPO. However, this does not guarantee that a brand is not cutting down forests! This the critical point to make here. So essentially, a brand can gain top marks from the RSPO for sustainability and can still buying palm oil from mills that are destroying forests. That is the very definition of having your cake and eating it too. The very definition of green-washing.

What are the differences between types of RSPO certified palm oils?
The RSPO logo

OK, so if RSPO certified palm oil is still resulting in deforestation, why don’t we just boycott palm oil all together?

Huge doubt has been cast on the palm oil industry by industry watch dogs. One redeeming feature of oil palm is that it’s an incredibly productive crop. The crop produces up to nine times more oil per unit area than other major oil crops. Where rapeseed oil would require 1.25ha of land and sunflower oil 1.43ha of land, palm oil would require only .26ha of land for the same amount of oil.

Banning palm oil and using another crop in its place such as mostly soy, sunflower and rapeseed would result in an increase in land used for producing other oils. This would likely have a negative environmental impact on the regions where those oils are produced.

References

IUCN


So how do we stop these greedy companies still buying deforestation palm oil?

The main objective of Palm Oil Detectives is to amass a global community of like-minded people who are able to collectively boycott all of the popular supermarket brands that are purchasing deforestation palm oil and also other conflict commodities that result in deforestation throughout the world. You will find research-based recommendations from industry watchdogs here, along with advice on palm oil free alternative products and other simple lifestyle changes you can make.

Once the major supermarket brands decide to cease using deforestation palm oil – and this cessation has been properly verified by industry watchdogs – you will find these brands on this website under the section ‘products containing deforestation-free palm oil’.

On this website you will also find simple everyday advice about how changing a few habits in your daily life can also help in the fight for endangered species. Also if you are a conservationist or creative, you will find out how you can contribute to raising awareness of species in peril from deforestation due to palm oil or another crop. And grow your own following at the same time.


Which species have been endangered by deforestation from palm oil and other crops?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species documents 9,088 species that are either directly or indirectly endangered by land-clearing and deforestation for palm oil or other crops. Oil palm expansion is estimated to impact 54% of threatened mammals and 64% of threatened birds globally.

Take a look at Palm Oil Detective’s list of beautiful birds, mammals and reptiles that are considered to be: Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable as a result of palm oil, soy, meat and timber deforestation in Africa, Papua New Guinea , Asia and South America. You can also find Forgotten Animals that have no known conservation efforts for their survival. This information was obtained from the IUCN Red List database in 2021 and will be updated as animals are (hopefully) kept alive.


Can some species thrive in oil palm plantations?

The tropical areas suitable for oil palm plantations are particularly rich in biodiversity. Oil palm development, therefore, has significant negative impacts on global biodiversity, as it often replaces tropical forests and other species-rich habitats. It has been estimated that oil palm expansion could affect 54% of all threatened mammals and 64% of all threatened birds globally. Oil palm also reduces the diversity and abundance of most native species. For example, it has played a major role in the decline in species such as orangutans and tigers.

Some 10,000 of the estimated 75,000–100,000 Critically Endangered Bornean orangutans are currently found in areas allocated to oil palm. Every year around 750 to 1,250 of the species are killed during human-orangutan conflicts, which are often linked to expanding agriculture. A small number of species can benefit from the presence of oil palm plantations, including species of wild pig, rodents and some snakes. (Source: Nature).


Why do you refer to ‘Deforestation Palm Oil’, not ‘Sustainable’ or ‘Unsustainable’?

The terms sustainable and unsustainable have very little meaning. These are terms that can be manipulated and green-washed by the industry, which is one reason why this website is necessary. According to the RSPO, a retail brand have a high rating on the WWF Palm Oil Scorecard and be considered ‘sustainable’, and yet that same brand may be purchasing palm oil through a supply chain that’s destroying forest. That is absolute bullshit. Thus the necessity for a new term, which means exactly what it says: ‘Deforestation Palm Oil’. Everyone can understand the meaning of this term, whereas sustainable and unsustainable are terms that have been manipulated to the point of being completely meaningless.


How does Palm Oil Detectives hold retail brands to account?

Unfortunately, many palm oil producers who are also members of the RSPO are not being transparent or clear about their land-clearing and deforestation activities. Also, there are many supermarket brands who continue to purchase deforestation palm oil from mills known to destroy forests. This is leading to the the extinction of hundreds of species throughout the world. Not to mention the human costs.

Holding these organisations to account is a complex job. Palm Oil Detectives does this by relying on research from industry watchdogs including:

Greenpeace

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)

Rainforest Action Network (RAN)

Chain Reaction Research (CRR)

Based on their research, Palm Oil Detectives makes recommendations for brand boycotts.


Why boycott the entire brand if only a few products contain deforestation palm oil?

People remember brands and logos not individual product names. It is far too complicated and difficult to boycott individual products.

Mostly importantly, the entire brand benefits when you purchase any products from them. Yet they are doing dirty deforestation secretly to give you those products. Therefore, Palm Oil Detectives recommends that you don’t give these brands any of your money at all. Not until they firstly agree to stop destroying forests and sending animals extinct and then they follow up this intention with real proven action.

#Boycott4Wildlife


I would like to boycott brands, but I can’t afford these more expensive alternatives, and/or the alternative brands aren’t available in my country?

This website will develop over time to involve makers and DIY experts who will provide video tutorials about how you can cheaply make your own soap, cleaning products, makeup, hair products, toothpaste and so on, using simple and cheap ingredients. So watch this space.

If you are interested in this, please get in touch and share with anyone you know who may be interested.


Is this a vegan website?

Palm Oil Detectives advocates for a plant-based diet, because clear scientific evidence shows that meat and dairy based agriculture are what is driving deforestation, animal extinction and global warming. Animal slavery is a real thing and it has been occurring since humans first grew a brain big enough to dominate other creatures. However, as modern consumers we can choose not to engage in this.

In saying this, we are all a product of the culture we were born into. We are all at different stages of unlearning about meat and dairy and how harmful it is. Palm Oil Detectives therefore cuts people some slack around their diet. We provide evidence and allow individuals to come to their own conclusions. This is a more productive way of communicating with people and often gets far better results than militantly and often aggressively ramming veganism down someone’s throat.

breakfast cereal

Is this an anti-palm oil website?

No, Palm Oil Detectives is anti-deforestation. The boycotts you see here relate to the activities of brands that are destroying forests and sending hundreds of animals extinct. Mostly this is related to palm oil and retail products, but it may also related to other commodities too. In future I may profile dirty banks as well who are funding the destruction of the natural world.

Once these retail brands have ceased deforestation from their palm oil, you will find them listed under the section called ‘Brands With No Deforestation Palm Oil‘.


Is this a pro-palm oil website?

No. This website casts a critical eye over every aspect of the palm oil industry along with the industry standards put in place by the RSPO and finds it severely wanting. The palm oil industry and its RSPO certification must be completely changed in order to halt the extinction of species and stop deforestation. This is where consumer pressure is absolutely critical in making this happen.


More Information

Meijaard, E., Brooks, T.M., Carlson, K.M. et al. The environmental impacts of palm oil in context. Nat. Plants 6, 1418–1426 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-020-00813-w

Environmental Investigation Agency: Research January 2021 Forests: Criminal Neglect

Failings in enforcement undermine the efforts to stop illegal logging in Indonesia

Chain Reaction Research: The Chain: Detected Deforestation Within Oil Palm Concessions Has Decreased So Far in 2020

Research February 2020: Repeat offenders continue to clear forest for oil palm in South East Asia

Greenpeace: Research 2019: The True Cost of Palm Oil & Wood Pulp

The terrible climate cost of global brands’ addiction to commodities linked to ongoing deforestation, peatland damage and fires

How Does the Palm Oil Spot Market Contribute to Deforestation? CRR Webinar July 2020

Oil palm and biodiversity: A situation analysis by the IUCN Oil Palm Task ForceINTERNATIONAL UNION FOR CONSERVATION OF NATURE Meijaard, E., Garcia-Ulloa, J., Sheil, D., Wich, S.A., Carlson, K.M., Juffe-Bignoli, D., and Brooks, T.M

The Mulu land grab: Results of a fact-finding mission to Sarawak (Malaysia) on palm oil-related deforestation and a land conflict near the UNESCO-protected Gunung Mulu World Heritage site.

Disclaimer

The Palm Oil Detectives website includes the results of impartial investigations into consumer brands. The information contained on these pages may be incomplete or incorrect at time of viewing. This website is not intended to offend or defame any person or organisation, but as a tool for clearer consumer choice. Palm Oil Detectives does not take any responsibility for incorrect or misleading information on this website. If you are wishing to correct and update the information on this website pertaining to a particular consumer brand, please contact Palm Oil Detectives palmoildetectives@ pm dot me

Please provide updated information about deforestation activities in the brand’s supply chain.

This will be investigated and verified using third party watchdogs such as Greenpeace, Environmental Investigation Agency, Chain Reaction Research and Rainforest Action Network. If this information is found to be correct – the website will be updated.

Palm Oil Detectives has no intention to do harm. Nor is it the intention of Palm Oil Detectives to libel, defame or malign any organisation, individual or company. Especially those that have the resources and desire to pursue a grievance. Palm Oil Detectives accept no responsibility for any harm or good that comes from following any suggestions made in these pages.


Statement of affiliation

Palm Oil Detectives is not affiliated with any organisation, charity or enterprise. It is not a charity, rather a self-funded website created by one woman to promote consumer activism and awareness.

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