UPDATED: 1/24/2013: The Law of Unintended Consequences: Dr. Oz + His Recommendation to Use Palm Oil May = Rise in Orangutan Deaths

Dr. Öz at ServiceNation 2008

Dr. Öz at ServiceNation 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Law of Unintended Consequences:

“actions, particularly those taken on a large scale, may have unexpected consequences. These ‘reactions,’ may be positive, negative or merely neutral, but they veer off from the intent of the initial action.” (source: Wise Geek, available at: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-law-of-unintended-consequences.htm)

Well, here’s a perfect example:

Just last week, that media-savvy TV-doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has a following the size maybe matched only by Oprah Winfrey, his mentor (and perhaps every bit as zealous and easily influenced), went on TV with a very reckless “medical” recommendation; a miracle cure, if you will, to rid one’s self of body fat. Working with somebody named Bryce Wylde, he suggested that people interested in more natural health food options to give this new miracle oil a try.

Sound exciting? Well, maybe it is until it’s revealed they’re talking about that environmental scourge that is palm oil.

Let’s give credit where it’s due, though. “Sustainable” palm oil is at least recommended in the Dr. Oz internet piece, penned by Wylde, that is available here:


Unfortunately it’s buried as the last line on the last page, almost as if a tacked-on afterthought.  (Maybe it wasn’t in an earlier version and the outcry has been so great that he had to add on this cautionary disclaimer; if only.)  But truly certified sustainable palm oil is not even readily available on a widespread basis yet.  So what’s the alternative? Non-sustainable palm oil.

Unfortunately, the demand for worldwide palm oil, already sky-high, may just skyrocket into the stratosphere even more after this very public TV recommendation to literally millions of easily swayed viewers around the world.

What would such demand lead to?  An insane increase in destruction (of rainforest), death (of critically endangered species, like the orangutan), displacement (of human inhabitants who call the forest home too), and the increase in global warming — all which could come just as NGOs (like Orangutan Outreach, WWF, Rainforest Action Network) and the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil may be making some headway to save Indonesia and Malaysia from its own insane, short-term greed.

Dr. Oz must retract this reckless “medical” suggestion, or at least present a segment educating his viewership, perhaps consisting of shut-ins, geriatrics, and the unemployed, to the true environmental cost of their everyday purchasing decisions.

This development is so bad for the orangutans, that a favorite NGO, Orangutan Outreach, posted this response to Dr. Oz’s Facebook page.

Dr Oz and his staff should do a bit of research before making a recommendation like this.While originally from West Africa, today 90% of the global supply of palm oil actually comes from Indonesia & Malaysia. This has come at a tremendous environmental cost. Indonesian and Malaysian forests are being burned to the ground– releasing so much carbon into the atmosphere that Indonesia now ranks 3rd behind China and US in carbon emissions– and it is barely industrialized. The UNEP estimates that the forests of Indonesia are being cleared at a rate of 6 football fields per minute every minute of every day.The palm oil industry is guilty of truly heinous ecological atrocities, including the systematic genocide of orangutans. The forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only place where these gentle, intelligent creatures live, and …the cultivation of palm oil has directly led to the brutal deaths of thousands of individuals as the industry has expanded into previously undisturbed areas of rainforest.When the forest is cleared, every living creature is captured or killed. Adult orangutans are shot on sight. These peaceful, sentient beings are beaten, burned, mutilated, tortured and often eaten. Babies are torn off their dying mothers so they can be sold on the black market as illegal pets to wealthy families who see them as status symbols of their own power and prestige. This has been documented time and again.If nothing is done to protect orangutans, they will be extinct in just a few years. Visit the Orangutan Outreach website to learn more: http://www.redapes.org.
Personally, I have tweeted, emailed, and Facebooked both Dr. Oz and Wylde, and I have posted this warning here. If you hear any easily influenced friends, family or co-workers suddenly espousing the positives of palm oil — and not its evils, please, set them straight. This wrong must be corrected before its unintended consequence run roughshod over the environment.
UPDATED:  1/21/2013:  Looks like the legendary Jane Goodall and the Great Apes Survival Partnership has added increasing pressure on Dr. Oz to retract his pro-palm oil statements.
Here’s the link to that story:
UPDATED: 1/24/2013:  Apparently the pressure (thanks Jane Goodall) has become too great.  Via social media, Oz is advising sustainable sourcing.  It’s not a retraction, but it’s a start.  From his Twitter account.

Dr. Mehmet Oz@DrOz
Recently, I’ve taken part in several conversations about the environmental sustainability of red palm oil. Take a look: http://bit.ly/WBw9dK

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10 Responses to UPDATED: 1/24/2013: The Law of Unintended Consequences: Dr. Oz + His Recommendation to Use Palm Oil May = Rise in Orangutan Deaths

  1. Celina says:


  2. Cecilia Pendlebury says:

    Are you out of your mind?? Do you care about anything else than your money and fame!?!?! The use of palm oil = destrution of forests, and more importantly of innocent animals like orangutans, but you wouldn’t know or care about that!!

  3. Virginia Woolf says:

    Deeply shocked by reading this article and what’s happening to the wildlife of Borneo and Sumatra. Dr Mehment Oz is an absolute menace to the environment. People like him give no thought nor care to the consequences of their actions – only wanting to pursue a course of action that makes them money and gives them kudos.Oprah Winfrey surely had a responsibility, as such a high profile figure, to grill him about the environmental implications of using his so-called miracle cure but is she, in fact, environmentally aware herself? Everything people do now that involves animals and the natural world needs to be totally questioned and scrutinized because the impact on the natural world, as a result of exploiting it, for greed and financial gain, has now reached crisis proportions and is pushing species like the gentle orangutan to extinction.

  4. Tamara sprenkeling says:

    Money talks huh, yeah but Youre money have blood on it, the whole environment is sufferig..almost dead and al you care is €€€€€€€€€€€€ or dollars, it is About time to wake up and do something for nature and wildlife so Youre children and Their children have a worthy respectful environment to live in, there a lost of friendlier and other ways to earn money with

  5. Pingback: In Memory of RAN’s Rebecca Tarbotten — Sign the Dr. Oz Petition to Get Him to Stop Promoting Palm Oil | gettingonmysoapbox

  6. Pingback: Orangutan Outreach Photo — What’s At Stake in Indonesia | gettingonmysoapbox

  7. Pingback: “Banana Republics” Continues to Clear Land for Palm Oil | gettingonmysoapbox

  8. GiRRL_Earth says:

    We need a plague that wipes out those who harm or cause harm to animals.

  9. Pingback: What the FDA Ban on Trans Fats Means for Orangutans and Other Critically Endangered Species | gettingonmysoapbox

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