SINGAPOER (Sept 16): It was a video that went viral across the world — an evocative tale of an orang utan that ends up “moving into” a little girl’s bedroom because its home in the forest had been destroyed by oil palm plantations. Commissioned by the environmental group, Greenpeace, in collaboration with the British supermarket chain, Iceland, the video was subsequently banned for being “too political”, but not before almost a million people had seen it on YouTube and Facebook between August and December last year.

Then, in March this year, the European Union decided to limit the types of vegetable oils that could be used for biofuels and, most surprisingly, only palm oil was deemed to cause deforestation and got taken off the approved list of vegetable oils that can be counted as renewable energy. The move prompted protests from both Malaysia, Indonesia and other palm oil- producing countries.

Across the world, the tide is turning against palm oil, which is one of the most efficient oils in terms of land utilisation and yields. As the world’s most traded and most ubiquitous vegetable oil, its derivatives are found in almost everything from soaps to shampoos, but its perception for deforestation and pollution has been hard to shake off.

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