Find ways to replace palm oil

The haze due to the slash-and-burn practice of clearing land for oil palm plantations in Indonesia has been a persistent problem clouding Singapore.

The effects of the haze can be felt in many aspects of our lives and they affect our health, work and leisure.

Singaporeans have been active on the ground and many initiatives have been taken to distribute masks and reduce our exposure to the haze as much as possible.

To tackle the source of the haze, though, we need to look towards reducing the need to clear land for plantations. This is achieved by lessening our dependence on palm oil.

I urge fellow Singaporeans, when they next visit a supermarket, to buy products that do not contain palm oil.

But I do understand that, due to the ubiquitous use of palm oil in products from cosmetics to ice cream to toothpaste, it is near impossible to cut its use altogether.

Hence, we need to find alternatives to palm oil.

Researchers at the University of Bath in Britain have discovered that yeast could be a possible candidate. The land use requirement for yeast can be even 100 times less than that for palm oil. This would decrease widespread deforestation and the resultant haze.

It is still too early to expect yeast to be the cure to all our haze problems. However, I applaud researchers for making this discovery and urge research institutes to make greater efforts to uncover more information and look into more alternatives to palm oil.

Stephanie Yong Yu Shan (Miss)