Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Oxfam accuses Coke and Pepsi of taking land from the poor

The Independent
Jamie Merrill
September 2, 2013.

Communities from Brazil to Cambodia are losing homes to make room for sugar crops, it is claimed

Land covering an area the size of Italy has been taken from indigenous communities around the world by suppliers to the biggest names in the food and drinks industry, according to a major new report.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are among the companies criticised by Oxfam for their links to land disputes, with the charity alleging that nearly 800 large-scale land deals by foreign investors have seen 33 million hectares taken into corporate ownership globally since 2000.

The research – which also highlights alleged disputes with British food giant ABF – claims that poor communities from Brazil to Cambodia are losing their homes to make way for lucrative sugar crops to feed the rich world’s increasingly sweet tooth.

Anti-poverty campaigners are now calling for major multinational companies to do more to stop indigenous communities from around the world from being forced from their homes.

Sally Copley, Oxfam’s campaigns director, said: “We need to be sure that what we eat and drink does not make the poorest and most vulnerable across the world homeless or landless. PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and ABF are the three big giants in the sugar industry and must lead the way in making sure we are not left with a sour taste in our mouths.”

Oxfam says the increasing appetite for sugar has gone largely unnoticed as a contributory factor to land grabs in the developing world. This is when local communities that rely on the land are evicted without consent or compensation – often violently – to make way for sugar plantations.

Oxfam links land disputes with companies that supply sugar for Coca-Cola products, including Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta and Dr Pepper. Pepsi-Co products implicated include Pepsi-Cola and Mountain Dew.
Read the rest here.
Comment: Land grabs is the 'new' colonialism so to speak.  And, indigenous people are the most vulnerable since most of the land they occupy is being eyed for speculative investment and development.  Much of the impetus for development is coming via so called offshore prospectors.

Photo of Edilza Duarte, 24, with daughter Stephanie Duarte and son Jason Duarte.
Edilza Duarte's community had their land taken from them. Now it's all covered in sugar cane, and Edilza says the sugar plantations have put an end to her culture by clearing the forest and spreading 'poison' (the chemicals sprayed on the sugar plantations). Photo: Tatiana Cardeal

Even as I write here much of the African continent is also being re-colonized under the auspices of development.

To learn more read the Oxfam report entitled "Sugar Rush: Land rights and the supply chains of the biggest food and beverage companies" here.

Also see a study guide of sorts put out by Oxfam that discusses the consequences of land grabs on impoverished and indigenous communities here (it is a PDF file).

Oxfam says that land grabs in effect violate human rights, particularly the equal rights of women; flout the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) under which affected communities are informed about and are able to give or refuse consent to a project; take place without or disregard a thorough assessment of social, economic and environmental impacts, including the impact on women avoid transparent contracts with clear and binding commitments on employment and benefit sharing; Eschew democratic planning, independent oversight, and meaningful participation.

See a detailed discussion of key recommendations forwarded by Oxfam here.

Finally see this video:


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