Would banning palm oil really improve sustainability?

Would banning palm oil really improve sustainability?

Matin Qaim

Professor of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, University of Goettingen, Germany

A ban would not improve sustainability, neither from environmental nor from socioeconomic perspectives. But improved sustainability policies are definitely required.

Global demand for palm oil has been increasing tremendously over the last few decades, and so has its production. Palm oil is made from the fruits of the oil palm, a crop that only grows well in tropical environments. Nowadays, Indonesia and Malaysia are the biggest palm oil producers and exporters worldwide (Fig. 1). The European Union (EU) is one of the major importing regions. Seventy percent of the global palm oil is used for food, either directly as vegetable oil or as an ingredient in a large number of processed food items ranging from chocolate spread to frozen pizza. The other 30% is used in non-food industries, including biofuels and cosmetics.

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