Published January 24, 2013
Palm oil is extracted at a heavy social and environmental cost that makes it one of the most controversial commodities in the world. Nowhere is the toll more acutely felt than the island of Borneo, divided between Malaysia and Indonesia, which together account for nearly 90 percent of global palm oil exports. On both sides of the border the industry thrives on cheap labor. In Malaysia's Sabah province, thousands of stateless children, born to undocumented Indonesian and Filipino migrant workers, live without access to health care or education. Jason Motlagh offers a closer look.