Reports from around the globe paint a distressing portrait of palm-oil expansion, with land disputes, violent conflicts, and even murders carried out on behalf of palm-oil barons. “It’s a modern-day gold rush,” says Laurel Sutherlin of the Rainforest Action Network, a nonprofit with one of the most active and visible campaigns against palm oil. “Especially in the last decade, there has been a meteoric rise in global demand for palm oil. It’s a very lucrative crop.” As a result, he says, greedy governments are handing over millions of acres in Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere to palm-oil interests, who then evict the communities living there. “You’ve got tens of millions of indigenous people whose customary land rights have no legal standing. So they are having their future and livelihood literally swept out from underneath them by rampant palm expansion.”
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