Consumer demand for meat, soy, and palm oil is causing extinction of the world’s primates

Though we often don’t know it when we purchase consumer goods, the things we buy can have catastrophic consequences thousands of miles away, including leading to the extinction of an entire species of animals.

Such is the case with primates, 60 percent of which are now facing extinction, according to a new study, which warns:

“Major anthropogenic pressures on primate persistence include the widespread loss and degradation of natural habitats caused by the expansion of industrial agriculture, pastureland for cattle, logging, mining, and fossil fuel extraction. This is the result of growing global market demands for agricultural and nonagricultural commodities.”

The major national culprits in this scenario: The United States and China, Tree Hugger notes:

“Approximately 95 percent of the forest-risk commodities that are exported by these primate habitat countries are imported by only 10 consumer nations in the world … And in fact, the United States and China account fully for 58 percent for the forest-risk exports.”

And the threat isn’t only to primates. We may be on the verge of endangering the entire human race, as the authors of the study warn:

“The economic benefits of commodity export for primate habitat countries has been limited relative to the extreme environmental costs of pollution, habitat degradation, loss of biodiversity, continued food insecurity and the threat of emerging diseases.”

What can be done? In their conclusion, the authors lay out concrete steps that need to be taken immediately. But those changes will require sacrifice by all of us:

“In order to achieve the goals of primate habitat conservation, it is imperative to decrease the world’s demand for agricultural products (e.g., oil seeds, natural rubber, sugar cane) and the consumption of meat and dairy products. (Unless a) way is found to promote environmental protection by ‘greening’ trade, primate habitat loss and population decline will continue unabated.”

Primates are our closest living relatives. We evolved from them. And yet we seem hell-bent on satisfying our own selfish consumer needs rather than modify our lives so that other species can co-exist and thrive.

It’s time for each of us reexamine our priorities and reconsider our buying habits to make sure these magnificent creatures survive.


Featured Image Via Pixabay

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Andrew Bradford

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