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Fires in peat land in Cengal of South Sumatra's Ogan Komering Ilir district, Indonesia. Nopri Isim / Mongabay Indonesia

By Hans Nicholas Jong

The makers of Oreo cookies and KitKat chocolate bars are among the companies getting some of their palm oil from producers linked to the fires that have razed large swaths of land in Indonesia, a new report says.

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Journalists were found dead at a palm oil plantation like this one in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. ILO Asia-Pacific / Flickr

By Ayat S. Karokaro and adapted by Basten Gokkon

Two Indonesian journalists who had reported on an illegal oil palm plantation in Sumatra while also allegedly trying to gain control of the crop have been found dead at the plantation.

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Golfrid Siregar, left, at a protest against the proposed Batang Toru hydropower project, which threatens the only known habitat of the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan. Indonesian Forum for the Environment

By Ayat S. Karokaro

Environmental activists in Indonesia have raised suspicions over the death this week of a human rights defender who was a staunch advocate of communities threatened by palm oil plantations.

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This aerial photo taken March 3, 2018 shows a protected area of the Rawa Singkil wildlife reserve being burnt in preparation for the opening of a new palm oil plantation. JANUAR / AFP / Getty Images

By Basten Gokkon

Major consumer brands including Nestlé, Kellogg's and The Hershey Company have been getting some of their palm oil from an illegal plantation inside a protected forest that holds the highest density of critically endangered orangutans anywhere on Earth, a new report says.

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Orange-red oil palm fruit produces two kinds of oil: "palm oil" from the flesh, "palm kernel oil" from the seed. dolphfyn / iStock / Getty Images

By Helen A. Lee

We cook with it. We bathe with it. We use it for mood lighting. Palm oil is an ingredient in processed foods, cosmetics, hygiene products, biofuels and candles; experts estimate it's found in 50 percent of the items on grocery store shelves. Inexpensive to produce, palm oil contains no trans fats, and has a high melting point, making it versatile and easy to spread. The result: increasing demand. In 1996, global production totaled 16 million metric tons. By 2017, it was 60.7 million.

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Two palm oil plantations in Peru supplanting primary forest.

Environmental Investigation Agency

By Genevieve Belmaker

Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.

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Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

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Oil palm plantations in northeastern Borneo, state of Sabah, Malaysia. Recently planted oil palms can be seen in the bright green grassy areas and a tiny bit of natural rainforest still struggles for survival farther away. Vaara / E+ / Getty Images

Palm Oil importers in Europe will not be able to meet their self-imposed goal of only selling palm oil that is certified deforestation-free, according to a new analysis produced by the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition, as Bloomberg reported.

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Goldman Environmental Prize Foundation

Six grassroots environmental activists will receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize today. Dubbed the Green Nobel Prize, the Goldman Prize honors environmental activists from each of the six continental regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Central America and South America, Africa and islands and island nations.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Prize founded in 1989 by U.S. philanthropists Rhoda and Richard Goldman. To date, 194 winners from 89 different nations have received this award.

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Art direction: Georgie Johnson. Illustrations: Freya Morgan

By Joe Sandler Clarke

"Don't expect us to continue buying European products," Malaysia's former plantations minister Mah Siew Keong told reporters in January last year. His comments came just after he had accused the EU of "practising a form of crop apartheid."

A few months later Luhut Pandjaitan, an Indonesian government minister close to President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, warned his country would retaliate if it was "cornered" by the EU.

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A worker carries a bunch of African oil palm fruit at a plantation in Guatemala. Victor J. Blue / Bloomberg

Palm oil production is exploding in Guatemala and is helping to fuel migration to the U.S. while creating poor labor conditions on the ground, Reuters reports. Palm oil production in Guatemala has exploded nearly sevenfold over the past ten years as subsistence farmers in the forested province of Raxruha are selling their land to palm oil companies—some to help pay for smugglers to help them cross the border into the U.S.

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