Could fungi provide an alternative to palm oil?

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Agriculture, Amazon Palm Oil, Deforestation, Environment, Forest Loss, Forests, Fungi, Habitat Loss, Industrial Agriculture, Land Use Change, Oil Palm, Palm Oil, Plantations, Rainforests, Research, Tropical Forests Palm oil is used in everything from margarine and ice cream to cosmetics and certain fabrics.But the palm oil industry has a history of association with deforestation and human rights abuses. As oil palm plantations continue to expand to more tropical areas around the world, many are worried they will come at the expense of rainforests.A biotech startup in the U.S. thinks it has found an alternative to palm oil – fungus that can be grown on food waste.But while lab experiments have demonstrated some success, it remains to be seen whether fungus-derived oil can be produced in quantities large and cheap enough to compete with palm oil. Fungi – a kingdom grouping that includes mushrooms, mold and yeast – have long been heralded for their beneficial properties. They’ve been used to soak up oil spills, boost your immune system and lower cholesterol, among other environmental and medical feats. Now, researchers have found one more use for fungi – as a possible alternative to palm oil.The palm oil industry has a history of association with deforestation and human rights abuses. But palm oil is also one of the most versatile products on the market, found in everything from margarine and ice cream to cosmetics and certain fabrics. One study by the Eden Tree, a green investment group, found that palm oil is found in over 50 percent of food and non-food products in major grocery stores.Palm oil comes from the fruit of the oil palm tree. Photo by Kimberley Brown for Mongabay.So, can fungi offer an alternative oil for these products?“Technically, yes,” said Melanie Valencia, an environmental chemist from Ecuador and one of the minds behind CarboCycle, a biotech startup that developed the technology to extract lipids from fungi that are similar to palm oil.“It’s really about how I feed [the fungi],” she said, explaining that the microorganisms actually grow on organic waste.Numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency show organic waste makes up more than half of solid waste produced in the U.S., and releases harmful methane and carbon dioxide emissions as it sits and decomposes. Recycling the waste alleviates this problem. It’s also an input that’s easy to manipulate – change the waste properties and you can change the kind of oil it produces.CarboCycle is a project born out of the environmental engineering lab at Columbia University in New York City, through research conducted by Valencia, Kartik Chandran and Shashway Vajpeyi. While not yet out of the lab, CarboCycle has been awarded the Colombia Venture Challenge, while the MIT Technology Review named Valencia one of the Top Innovators Under 35 in 2016 for her role in the project.Their initial aim wasn’t to develop an alternative for palm oil, but rather to address climate change issues. This is why they ended up with a technology that tackles both deforestation and overflowing landfills, aiming to “close the carbon loop,” as per their organizational motto.Valencia’s colleagues in the lab collect organic food waste from Columbia University’s dinning hall. Image courtesy of Columbia Engineering.According to Valencia, the biggest ecological problem with oil palm is the enormous amount of space it uses. The total land devoted to palm agriculture spiked between 1990 and 2012, from 6 to 17 million hectares worldwide, according to a recent article in the journal Global Environmental Change. In many cases, industrial cultivation of oil palm trees has led to the deforestation and degradation of rainforest habitat. This has been particularly severe in Indonesia, where millions of hectares of tropical forest – including peat forest, which stores more carbon per hectare than any other ecosystem in the world – have been converted into oil palm plantations.“It’s taking away the carbon sequestration capacity from a ton of soil,” Valencia said. In this sense, “palm is a bigger threat to our ecosystem than oil,” especially since future projections show that demand for the product is likely to rise, she added.According to the World Bank, demand for palm is expected to double by 2050, as emerging economies consume more and more processed foods, in which palm oil is a major ingredient.The production of oil from fungi takes up significantly less space, Valencia says, since all of the work is done in the lab. It’s production has several stages, from fermenting the organic waste on which the fungi will grow, to collecting the final microorganisms (fungi), and extracting lipids (the oil) from their cells.Before being fed to the fungi, organic waste is pulped and processed. Image courtesy of Columbia Engineering.A machine processing some of the lipids that have been extracted by fungi and yeast products, which were grown using the organic waste. Image courtesy of Columbia Engineering.Another benefit of this process is its minimal retention time. The whole operation from beginning to end takes only two to four days, which means that under appropriate conditions CarboCycle could produce at very high rates. Valencia said storing the stock is her only concern about space.In the initial stages of their research, Valencia and her colleagues spoke to companies that use palm oil in their products, including major brands like Dannon and Johnson & Johnson, many of which said they were looking to take palm oil out of their production chain due to the negative PR the industry garnered over the years. This is one reason Valencia is optimistic about CarboCycle’s future. She and her colleagues are currently applying for grants, while looking for funding and businesses to partner with in order to really get CarboCycle off the ground and out of the lab.However, even though they are optimistic, Valencia said producing at scale is a whole other ball game, and one of the biggest challenges for startup companies trying to tackle environmental problems.This is not the first time that scientists have claimed to find an alternative to palm oil. Researchers have also looked at algae and yeast, but haven’t been able to produce either at scales large enough to compete with palm oil.Ashwin Ravikumar, an environmental scientist and assistant professor of environmental studies at Amherst College, said cost is another major barrier that laboratory-based alternatives to oil palm will face. Oil palm is too cheap to compete with, he said, mainly because land is so cheap, particularly in the Amazon where there is a major lack of forest protection.An oil palm plantation in La Concordia, Ecuador, that belongs to ANCUPA, the National Association of Oil Palm Cultivators. Photo by Kimberley Brown for Mongabay.However, he says that this reality should not be accepted as a fixed status quo.“To say that oil palm is cheap and that’s the way it is, like this fact that just exists out there, is to dangerously de-politicize the entire nature of the sector,” he saidAccording to Ravikumar, governments could play a major role here by increasing protected forest area and calling off development projects in certain parts of the Amazon, which would naturally increase the price of land. But, he said, many of them won’t.The Amazon in particular has been a major concern for environmentalists. Currently, around 85 percent of the world´s supply of palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia alone. But as demand rises and plantation land becomes less available in these areas, producers are increasingly looking elsewhere to expand cultivation. The Amazon and other tropical areas around the equator are hot spots for future plantations since oil palm trees need temperatures between 25 and 28 degrees Celsius, regular rainfall and strong sunlight to thrive.According to Ravikumar, this expansion could lead to deforestation of huge swaths of rainforest, and destroy local biodiversity, cultural diversity and carbon stocks in the process. Research published in a 2006 study in Nature estimates the Amazon rainforest stores between 90 and 140 billion metric tons of carbon, which, if released, could significantly affect climate change.Recently deforested land next to an established oil palm plantation and natural rainforest in Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.But according to industry specialists, oil palm plantations do not have the same environmental impacts as they once did. Mauricio Viteri is a manager at Oleana, an umbrella organization that represents various actors in the palm oil sector in Ecuador. He says outside pressures have caused the industry to make major changes in all aspects of its production process. This includes establishing the industry-founded Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the world’s largest palm oil certification body, to ensure producers follow environmental protection regulations and do not contribute to more deforestation.“Initially, yes, in places like Malaysia and Indonesia there was concern about the environmental impact [of oil palm]. But not in the Americas,” Viteri said.Environmentalists are skeptical that this accreditation goes far enough. Valencia herself said the certification is better than nothing, but the global community could be doing more.“I think we’ve overused the sustainable word,” she said, “We have the capacity to regenerate, so why not reach for that?”FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Article published by Morgan Erickson-Davislast_img read more