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World: RSPO faces challenges of post-pandemic palm oil

Published Dec 26, 2022

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“With the way the environment is being destroyed, the way climate change is happening, the way we travel, the way we consume, it’s just a matter of when the next pandemic will happen.” Dr Jemilah Mahmood’s sobering words echoed in the ears of almost 1,000 people attending the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in Kuala […]

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“With the way the environment is being destroyed, the way climate change is happening, the way we travel, the way we consume, it’s just a matter of when the next pandemic will happen.” Dr Jemilah Mahmood’s sobering words echoed in the ears of almost 1,000 people attending the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last month. Because of Covid-19, this was the first time in three years the annual meeting had been convened in person. Mahmood, professor of planetary health at Sunway University, Malaysia, and the event’s keynote speaker, acknowledged that the industry had suffered because of the pandemic. But strikingly, she also highlighted palm oil’s role in deforestation, now recognised as a potential driver of epidemics as it shakes zoonotic viruses loose from wild habitats. Her warning was clear: as palm oil continues pushing against forest frontiers, it not only endangers biodiversity and climate, but could be implicated in the next pandemic. Mahmood’s ...
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