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A controversial collaboration: Scientists team up with the palm oil industry

If you can’t beat them, join them. Or so the old adage goes. And that’s exactly what scientists working at the SMART Research Institute (SMATRI) in Indonesia are doing. The oil palm research institute is owned by Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) — part of Sinar Mas, one of the largest palm oil conglomerates in the world.

This unlikely collaboration allows researchers to team up with the oil palm industry for a potential win-win situation: scientists use industry funding carry out important research on biodiversity and the palm industry benefits from these insights in terms of productivity and yield. And some planters are warming to the potential benefits of increased biodiversity — a prospect previously feared.

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