Environmentalists hail Indonesia's moratorium plan on new palm oil permits, mining operations

According to a study published in 2014 Indonesia had the highest rate of deforestation in the world

By Karnika Bahuguna
Published: Wednesday 20 April 2016

The Indonesian government is in the process of preparing a moratorium on new permits for palm oil plantations and mining operations, President Joko Widodo was quoted as saying in the local media.

The move has been hailed by environmentalists as the country has been drawing a lot of flak for deforestation, which is mainly driven by palm oil plantation.

A study published in the journal, Nature Climate Change, in 2014 had said that Indonesia had the highest rate of deforestation in the world.

Another report released in December 2014 by the United Kingdom-based non-profit, Environmental Investigation Agency, found that between 2011 and 2013 palm oil was the single reason for deforestation in Indonesia.

During these two years, the country overtook Brazil as the nation with the highest annual rate of deforestation, it read.

Public health concern

Indonesia is an international leader in palm oil production. Although details on Indonesia’s planned moratorium on new palm oil permits are awaited, the move can be seen as a positive step towards ensuring public health safety.

The ill effects of palm oil with its high concentration of saturated fats, have been highlighted by researchers time and again.

A research paper published by the London-based policy institute, Chatham House, in May 2015 said that palm oil consumption in low-and-middle-income countries has been linked to higher rates of cardiovascular disease mortality.

The paper titled “Reviewing Interventions for Healthy and Sustainable Diets” said that the link in high-income countries was weaker, probably in part reflecting the low levels of palm oil consumption relative to other sources of saturated fats such as meat and dairy products.

Increasing use of palm oil as a “healthier” alternative to partially-hydrogenated oils is a cause for concern, the research paper read.

Another study published in December 2011 in the journal, Globalization and Health, expressed concern that increased consumption of palm oil could push up mortality from ischemic heart disease and stroke, particularly in the developing countries where it is a major nutritional source of saturated fat.

Regulating and restricting palm oil plantations is being seen as a welcome move for the greater good of the environment and public health.

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