Here's the last line of a Bloomberg Businessweek article that exposes the human rights abuses rampant in Indonesia's palm oil sector:
"Adam, the 19-year-old who fled the PT 198 [palm] plantation in 2010, says he hopes shoppers ask themselves a simple question when they consider which oil to buy: 'Is there slavery in this?'"
That's a very good question to ask, but unfortunately most folks are not asking it when they go to the store to do their shopping. While the environmental impacts of the palm oil industry on Indonesia's rainforests get a lot of attention, human rights abuses like forced and child labor are less widely known. The Bloomberg piece, which is based on a nine-month investigation, documents the abusive labor practices on a plantation owned by one of the biggest palm oil companies in Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK).
What was the response to this report from Cargill, which received "at least 31 shipments of palm oil from KLK, totaling more than 61 million pounds, over the last three years," palm oil that has now been documented to have been made at least partially by workers and children forced into slave labor conditions? Cargill's response was the same as it's ever been, denial.
It's time to tell Cargill, the leading supplier of palm oil in the US, that we will not stand for child and slave labor in our food.