Deforestation for Palm Oil in PNG

An explosive report last week on UK’s Channel 4 captured palm oil magnates admitting they bribe public officials to sign over the world’s third-largest rainforests in Papua New Guinea, using corrupt police officials to terrorize the local population into submission so the companies profit two ways: selling the pristine timber, then planting palm plantations exploiting and cheating the workers, including children as young as 10. Palm oil is cheap and ubiquitous in consumer products, from food to cosmetics; U.S.-based consumer giants Kelogg’s, Colgate-Oalmolive and Nestle reacted with alarm, saying they were investigating, ending supply relationships or have already done so. Critics of the industry say that demand for the cheap, flavorless oil is so great that no one has an incentive to stop it. Billions are made in the palm oil business while the indigenous peoples of PNG lose their culture and way of life, and the world loses all the carbon capture of a rainforest. Above: logs of tropical hardwoods are stacked up for export in Vanamo, PNG. (Ed Davey/Global Witness)

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