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Palm oil giant agrees to halt forest destruction and that of its suppliers

Last summer, heavy smoke choked the bustling financial center of Singapore. It was the worst smoke the city had seen in 16 years, caused by the annual fires to clear rainforest in Indonesia and make way for palm oil plantations. The irony of Singapore's problem was not lost on environmentalists. Singapore is a hub for palm oil trading, a lucrative market that has soared in recent years and is responsible for extensive deforestation in Southeast Asia. But last week, the largest player in the palm oil market, Wilmar International Ltd., agreed to halt deforestation -- not only in its own plantations, but on the lands of the hundreds of companies from which it buys palm oil

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