Did slaves harvest the palm oil that went into your cookie?


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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