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apnews.com: Palm oil labor abuses linked to world’s top brands, banks

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Palm oil labor abuses linked to world’s top brands, banksPENINSULAR MALAYSIA (AP) — Jum’s words tumble out over the phone, his voice growing ever more frantic.

Between sobs, he says he’s trapped on a Malaysian plantation run by government-owned Felda, one of the world’s largest palm oil companies.

Together, the two countries produce about 85 percent of the world’s estimated $65 billion palm oil supply.

Most stressed they were working toward obtaining only ethically sourced palm oil, pushing governments to make systemic changes, and taking immediate steps to investigate when alerted to troubling issues and suspending relationships with palm oil producers that fail to address grievances.

“If the whole Western world would stop using palm oil, I don’t think that would make any difference,” said Gerrit van Duijn, a former refineries manager at Unilever, one of the world’s largest palm oil buyers for food and personal care products.

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