Synthetic palm oil brewed like beer? Bill Gates investing in the possibility

Palm oil is a wonder material. Being used in a vast range of different products, it is almost impossible to avoid it in the west. Why should we try? because it has been the cause of much of the rainforest destruction on Sumatra, Borneo and lately even in the last great rainforests of west Africa.

Could we have all the palm oil we want, while at the same time replanting the rainforests which were lost?

The idea that instead of cutting down fast areas of rainforest to grow palm oil, you create huge vats, add some microbes and food for them to eat, and through the fermentation process they create palm oil.

Sustainable palm oil is constantly coming under criticism, partly because much of the land it is grown on has still be deforested, it has just been a few decades since the forest was cut down. There are indeed many ways in which sustainable palm oil is really an oxymoron. I have written in the past about the possibility of creating palm oil from seaweed, and this is indeed a possibility, however vats may indeed have smaller impacts on the world.

The RSPO has meant to make sure that companies behave in a sustainable way to be able to have their product show the branding. Back in 2019 Greenpeace released a report that showed members of the RSPO had been causal in a series of forest fires in Indonesia.

Sustainable certification, has shown to be an easily cheated system. Zero forestation pledges have also proved empty promises, with many of the producers selling the land off to a supplier and then having them deforest it anyway.

Of course, we must be careful with the small stake holders who have sustainably been able to make money from the palm oil business. However, the idea that we might be able to get all the palm oil we want, without cutting down any more forest is fantastic.

More than that, some of the profits from this new palm oil should be diverted into returning palm oil plantations back to the rainforest it was before, thereby making the palm oil carbon negative.

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