Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Top Food Companies Fail to Protect Environmental Activists in Supply Chains

Destruction of rainforest in West Kalimantan, Borneo paves way for palm oil plantation. Photo by David Gilbert/RAN.

A recent investigation by the anti-poverty advocacy organization Oxfam reveals how the world’s top ten food and beverage companies are failing to protect environmental and human rights defenders caught in the companies’ supply chains.

The Oxfam report, Pathways to Deforestation-Free Food, demonstrates how Associated British Foods, Danone, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelēz, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever have committed to tackling deforestation caused by their companies, but crucially lack policies to protect local activists and environmentalists within their supply networks from violence, threats, and attacks.

“A glaring policy gap across all the companies analyzed,” the Oxfam report found, “is that none have policies to protect human rights defenders, nor require their suppliers to put in place policies of zero threats, intimidation or attacks against human rights defenders and local communities.”

Industrial farming of food ingredients such as soy and palm oil, for example, have led to massive deforestation and displacement of rural communities in Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia, and elsewhere throughout the globe. Activists standing up against such industries in defense of forests, rivers, land, and the livelihoods of local communities have been threatened and murdered at an increased rate in recent years.

Four environmental activists were murdered each week in 2016 for defending their communities and environment from the impacts of agribusiness, mining, and logging industries, according to a report from the human rights organization Global Witness.

In Colombia, activists standing up against the impacts of El Cerrejón, Latin America’s largest open-pit mine, have faced regular threats and violence.

Jakeline Romero has organized against the water shortages and displacement caused by this mine, which is owned by Glencore, BHP Billiton, and Anglo-American.

“They threaten you so you will shut up,” Romero told Global Witness. “I can’t shut up. I can’t stay silent faced with all that is happening to my people. We are fighting for our lands, for our water, for our lives.”

The world’s leading food and beverage companies are not doing enough to stem the violence against environmental activists in their own supply chains, the new Oxfam report found.

“In many countries where agribusiness companies are investing, the rights of community activists are under attack because of their work to defend the rights of their communities—the right to forests and natural resources, to their land and water, their livelihood and their way of life,” Oxfam stated.

“From violent crackdowns on protests and criminalization of speech, to arbitrary arrests and assaults or, in some cases, murder of human rights defenders, as well as restrictions on activities of civil society organizations, such attacks seek to delegitimize the voice and interests of communities,” Oxfam explained.

Across the world, from Indonesia to Honduras, environmental defenders are facing down multinational corporations and the devastating impacts of their industries on local communities, rivers, forests, and indigenous ways of life.

Honduran activist and social justice leader Berta Cáceres was murdered in March, 2016 for her environmental activism and leadership of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).

In an interview on the legacy of her mother’s struggle, Berta Cáceres’ daughter Berta Zúñiga Cáceres, explained the vision of COPINH and how it challenges the economic model guiding multinational corporations and their political allies.

“It’s a very rich vision and one that exists among many indigenous peoples,” Cáceres explained. “It has to do with building a logic that’s completely opposed to the hegemonic way of thinking that we’re always taught. The vision and proposals are defiant, totally different than the academic, patriarchal, racist, positivist vision of the world. They include relations between people that are much more communitarian and collective, and that also have a strong relationship to the global commons and to nature, defying the dominant anthropocentric vision. They relate to spirituality and the relationships we have with all living beings – a holistic vision of life.”

“Indigenous people find themselves battling extractivism, companies, mining, because that’s the battleground where these different ways of knowing, of feeling, of cosmovision play out,” she said. “This is the wealth of indigenous peoples. But it also represents a threat for the economic model that’s based on profits and money, and that’s developed through repression and exclusion.”

This article originally appeared in TowardFreedom.com.

 

More articles by:

Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America, covering social movements and politics in the region for over a decade. He is the author of the books Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, and The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia. Dangl is currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American History at McGill University, and edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Twitter: https://twitter.com/bendangl Email: BenDangl(at)gmail(dot)com

Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
Samantha Krop
Questioning Our Declaration on Human Rights
Morna McDermott
Classrooms, Not Computers: Stop Educating for Profit
Patrick Walker
Today’s Poor People’s Campaign: Too Important Not to Criticize
Julia Stein
Wrestling With Zionism
Clark T. Scott
The Exceptional President
Barry Barnett
The Family of Nations Needs to Stand Up to the US  
Robert Koehler
Two Prongs of a Pitchfork
Bruce Raynor
In an Age of Fake News, Journalists Should be Activists for Truth
Max Parry
The U.S. Won’t Say ‘Genocide’ But Cares About Armenian Democracy?
William Gudal
The History of Israel on One Page
Robert Jensen
Neither cis nor TERF
Louis Proyect
Faith or Action in a World Hurtling Toward Oblivion?
David Yearsley
The Ubiquitous Mr. Desplat
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail