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Our investigation reveals that some palm oil--the most widely used vegetable oil in the world--is produced with slave labor. Palm oil is in all the products above, and many more.

Palm Oil Production Under Fire​ 
Human Rights Abuses
& other Controversies

The production of palm oil is not without its challenges and controversies. 


Forced Labor & Child Labor

Indigenous Peoples' Rights

The Environment


Local Economies


Public Health

Palm oil and its derivatives are in numerous popular brand-name foods and household products around the world. As a commodity, demand is rising, and with it production. 


Learn about the production of palm oil generally, and in Indonesia specifically.


What is Palm Oil &
Where Does It Come From?


Palm Oil Production
in Indonesia


Products With Palm Oil 


Palm Oil Supply Chain


Picture Gallery of 
Products with Palm Oil


Outline of Production
Palm Fruit to Product
Palm Oil Production
Palm Oil Industry's Response

The palm oil industry, together with government and non-governmental organizations, is addressing some of the ongoing conflicts surrounding current methods of palm oil production.


The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), based in Malaysia, is the primary vehicle through which better practices are being recommended and supported.


Learn more:

Palm Oil Industry Response


RSPO-Member Timetables for Switching to Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO)


Adam's Story

From Freedom to Slavery and Back

In a nine-month investigation, the Schuster Institute's team of reporters followed the intra-country migration of workers in the palm oil industry in Indonesia. "Indonesia's Palm Oil Industry Rife With Human-Rights Abuses," the resulting story published at and in the July 22, 2013 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, highlights the harrowing and unexpected journey one man took from freedom to slavery and back, and how few consumers, including those in the burgeoning markets of China and India, are aware of workers' plight.


Photo Slideshow

About this Investigation

Industry, Advocacy, Media & Other Response since this Investigation



This website is dedicated to the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism's
investigative reporting on human trafficking and modern-day slavery. 


In the Business of Slavery Project, we investigate modern-day forms of slavery in two industries:
palm oil industry and the fishing industry.


Other reporting examines the human trafficking network stretching from Boston to Bangkok.



Learn more about our investigative reporting at




Schuster Institute - Bloomberg Businessweek collaboration

Is There Slavery In Your Supermarket?

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