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Resource March 16, 2017

Meet the Journalist: Wudan Yan

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Workers load up palm oil fruit to be brought into a mill in Riau, Indonesia—the largest palm-oil producing province in Indonesia
English

Palm oil—found in hundreds of food products and cosmetics consumed and used in the Western world—has...

Palm oil is pressed from fruits in a factory in Southern Myanmar. Image by Wudan Yan. Myanmar, 2016.
Palm oil is pressed from fruits in a factory in Southern Myanmar. Image by Wudan Yan. Myanmar, 2016.

Journalist Wudan Yan traveled to Southeast Asia to investigate the barriers to producing palm oil in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Palm oil is a commodity that's folded into myriad consumables, ranging from chocolate bars to toothpaste and body wash—it is also linked to massive deforestation. A team of scientists are trying to make the oil palm plant produce much more oil, which would theoretically reduce pressure for deforestation.

Yan spent time with policy makers in an effort to understand why this deforestation is so hard to prevent in Indonesia. In addition, she looked at labor issues in the large plantations that sprawl over thousands of hectares in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar—a frontier country for the development of palm oil.

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