Why Is The Palm Oil Advert Banned?

Iceland’s Christmas Advert regarding the impacts of deforestation on Palm Oil should absolutely not be banned. Rather, it should be spread on social media, in papers, and on television. This is for two main reasons: firstly, the environmental importance of saving the rainforests and orangutans should be made known to everyone. Secondly, preventing this message from being broadcasted is a restriction of free speech, and is detrimental to stopping unsustainable deforestation. Overall, making the population aware of a pressing political and environmental issue should not be prevented, but rather celebrated and acted on.

The first reason why Iceland’s Christmas Advert should not be banned is because consumers should be made aware of the catastrophic impacts that palm oil extraction is having on animals and rainforests. Individuals pick up goods such as chocolate, biscuits and soaps in the supermarket without realising palm oil is contained in them, let alone whether that palm oil has been sustainably sourced. This means that – as the Iceland advert highlights – we lose 25 orangutans every day. This should certainly be made known to the consumers.

Harvested palm fruit from which the oil is extracted.

Furthermore, the uproar on social media has indicated that saving the rainforests is of huge interest to the nation. Almost 900,000 people have signed Greenpeace petition to force brands to ‘drop dirty palm oil’. The BBC also states that the advert has had 13 million views on Facebook, and 90,000 retweets on Twitter. By banning the advert, fewer viewers will have the knowledge to decide whether to adapt their shopping habits and actively contribute to stopping orangutans being killed, and rainforests being slaughtered. Therefore, this advert should be shared with everyone, purely to educate them and give them the opportunity to act on this environmental disaster should they choose to.

Thirdly, a restriction of Greenpeace’s message that unsustainable extraction of palm oil should be banned is a restriction of free speech. Political adverts are illegal, but shouldn’t it really be up to the individual what they choose to listen to and agree with? Although Greenpeace has had violent campaigns in the past, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them sharing a view, as long as it does not directly pressure people to participate in their campaigns.

In addition, environmental issues are far more important for us to understand than concerns over whether an advert is ‘too political’. The fact that the population was not aware of unsustainable oil extraction indicates that the government was not doing enough to protect our globe. Thus, it is crucial that organizations take on the responsibility to show consumers the environmental impacts of the products they are buying. In this way, the advert is educational and banning it is actually more harmful to the principle of free speech – as well as the environment.

Overall, Iceland’s Palm Oil Christmas advert should absolutely not be banned, because the damaging effects of unsustainable extraction are too extreme to be ignored. Furthermore, the notion that political adverts are illegal should be questioned. It is understandable that political ideas should not be forced upon people, but simply giving the population a chance to be aware and therefore make up their own mind whether to act on a political issue should not be illegal.

Charlotte Abbott

Main Image Credit: Asnidamarwani, Fotolia.