Every major palm oil buyer has recently committed to end deforestation and human exploitation in the industry. Now that commitment is being put to the test. Cargill, Nestlé, and Procter & Gamble are all buying palm oil from a plantation in Malaysia that has trapped workers in slave-like conditions, The Wall Street Journal reports in a big investigative piece. Cargill says it will investigate, and we’ll be watching to see how it follows up.
The story follows 22-year-old Mohammad Rubel, who left his home in Bangladesh seeking a better life. Smugglers brought boatloads of people like him to Malaysia, where contractors send workers to plantations, while claiming generous portions of their wages:
“They buy and sell us like cattle,” said one 25-year-old Bangladeshi, who said he had been shunted among three contractors for six months without receiving any pay.
Living in huts in the forest far from stores, the workers often…
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