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July 07, 2020 - Mongabay

That coconut oil you love? Species have gone extinct over it. True story

That coconut oil you love? Species have gone extinct over it. True story
Coconut TreeFile Photo / © Photabulous!

For conscious consumers, palm oil tends to be the pariah of tropically grown crops. This is due to the well-publicized fact that oil palm plantations are highly destructive to biodiversity, displacing critically endangered species like orangutans. But palm oil isn’t the only consumable oil that causes environmental damage, according to a new study. It argues that the public is grossly uninformed, or even misled, about the environmental footprint of most oil crops. To illustrate this point, the authors put the spotlight on the popular husk-covered seed with its fleshy, milky center: the coconut.

According to the study, published in Current Biology, the production of coconut oil impacts 20 threatened species per million liters of oil produced. By this measure, coconut oil is positioned to be more destructive than palm oil, which only affects 3.8 species per million liters, or even soybean oil, which impacts 1.3 species per million liters. However, few people know this, Erik Meijaard, the study’s lead author, told Mongabay.

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