Human Rights: Palm Oil

French fries are one of the most popular foods in restaurants across America.  Most likely any french fries that you eat are fried in palm oil.

Palm oil is very cheap to produce and therefore it is the most commonly used vegetable oil. Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, Taco Bell and McDonald's all use palm oil.

And our need for palm oil is responsible for this:

The body of a burned orangutan in Borneo.  Orangutans are being killed as forests are being destroyed for palm oil plantations. Greener Ideal.
The first casualties of the world's insatiable desire for cheap palm oil has been orangutans, their lush land being cleared for palm plantations.

And those plantations are run on the labor of slaves and children.

A child working on a palm oil plantation in Indonesia. One Green Planet.
The palm oil industry generates over $44 billion a year in profits.  And palm oil can be found in more than just french fries. Palm oil is also found in cereal from Kellogg's and General Mills, toothpaste and shampoo from Colgate, lipstick from Proctor and Gambles, mac and cheese and peanut butter from Kraft, Chips Ahoy and Ritz crackers from Nabisco, gum from Wrigley's and many more products you use everyday.  In fact, over 1/2 of all supermarket products contain palm oil.


  • Forced labor in the palm oil industry is the result of human trafficking
  • Employers often take passports and permits from workers, making it impossible for them to leave
  • Tropical rain forests are being cut down at an alarming rate. By 2022, over 98% of those in southeast Asia will be gone
  • In Malaysia, workers are forced into two-year contracts and not paid during that time, but are "loaned" healthcare, housing and food, which are then "deducted" from their pay effectively giving them nothing
  • In Malaysia, children born to undocumented palm oil workers are "stateless" and have no legal rights
  • Workers on palm oil plantations sleep in barracks at night and are guarded by armed soldiers to prevent them from escaping
  • Often children work seven days a week on palm oil plantations
  • Malaysian-based company Kuala Lumpur Kepong is the largest producer of palm oil, selling it to Kraft, Unilever and other multinational corporations to $22 billion a year in profits


Indonesia's Palm Oil Industry Rife With Human-Rights Abuses
Is There Slavery In Your Supermarket?