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Story Publication logo January 24, 2013

Lost in the Forest: The Stateless Children of Borneo's Oil Palm Plantations

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Profitable as it is for multi-national companies, palm oil is extracted at a heavy social and...

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Derived from the fruit of oil palm trees, palm oil can be found in almost half of products in US supermarkets, from cookies to cosmetics. Image by Jason Motlagh. Borneo, 2012.

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.






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