We started writing about the vicious link between palm oil and land grabbing back in 2010 (1). Highlighting the vacuity of the commitments made by the gang of the largest producers, traders and users, who have tried to paint of green the image of the deadliest tropical oil (so-called greenwashing), without taking into any account the land robbery impact on local communities (2). In late 2010, we launched a petition against the use of palm oil in the food chain, collecting 115 thousand signatures in four months. And right now, a week after the inauguration of the Expo, the crocodile tears of its colossal sponsor McDonald’s, which shows new commitments to be realized in the next three decades. We cannot not comment on the situation.
Palm oil and land robbery
Between 2008 and 2014, at least 56 million hectares of land (equal to the extension of France) in Developing Countries were snapped up by foreign investors (3). At the end of 2014, the international NGO Grain recorded 66 macro-operations of land robbery in tropical countries designed exclusively for growing mono-intensive oil palm (4). The sub-Saharan Africa – Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Guinea and Guinea Bissau, Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Benin, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, etc. – It was the epicenter of the latest predatory instincts, due to the instability of local governments and the consequent ease of acquisitions and evictions of huge tracts of forest areas at ridiculous prices (5).
The voracious demand for palm has not afterward neglected Southeast Asia. 8 million hectares of natural habitat are ‘at palm risk ‘ in the Philippines, 5.5 million acres of land already under foreign rule in Papua New Guinea, 5 million hectares in the hands of 25 large investors in Indonesia (6).
From Southeast Asia to Latin America, the palm lust has extended to the Amazon of Peru, as well as Honduras and Colombia (7).
Palm oil and deforestation
The report “Corporations, Commodities, and Commitments That Count”, published in March 2015 by the organization Supply-Change (8), attributes at least two thirds of tropical deforestation to irresponsible management of forests with agricultural speculative purposes, in response to the increasing demand for palm oil in the first place, soybeans and cattle to follow. All that is needed to the first chain of public restaurants in the world, McDonald’s, and its 36,000 fast foods.
The entire production of palm oil on a global scale takes place in countries that used to house tropical forests. But the uncontrolled expansion of these crops threatens the environment like human rights, state the researchers of Supply-Change, that to date only 10% of the market is covered by the “certified tonnes of palm oil” which moreover , for 69%, are expressed through transactions of credits or certificates (sigh!).
Grain in turn has recently reported the immensity of European imports of “food commodities” whose production comes from land subject to robbery and illegal deforestation (9).
Mc NOT lovin’it
The first fast-food chain in the world, with 36,000 eateries in a hundred countries, has been the subject of numerous protests in recent years. Not only because of low pay and the fast pace of work (10) and for its irresponsible nutrition and use of GM ingredients without informing consumers of it (11), but also for the enormous as well serious social and environmental impact of its supply chains. Because of the massive use of beef, whose production requires about 15 thousand liters of water per kg of food, as well as doubts about animal welfare and the use of growth hormones (12). The responsibilities related to land robbery and deforestation are placed in this context, aggravated in the supply chain of McDonald’s by the use of both operations of palm and soy.
In 2006 – following a Greenpeace report on the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest caused by endless crops of soybeans – the Yankee giant was forced to take some initial commitments in that direction (13). But the commitments made on the palm front, beyond appearances, were completely unsuitable and sketchy in the ‘Global Palm Oil Scoreboard’ of 2014. Big numbers, little substance (14).
And in these days, under the ‘hydraulic pressure’ of NGOs and aware consumers, Mc Palm has finally resolved to boast new resolutions, postponing to 2030 the interruption of their significant contribution to global deforestation. Without even mentioning, it goes without saying, the robbery of lands (15). But can the planet actually endure another three decades for environmental disasters?
(2) http://www.ilfattoalimentare.it/olio-palma-rspo.html, http://www.ilfattoalimentare.it/i-produttori-di-olio-di-palma-sostengono-di-voler-salvare-le-foreste-ma-e-davvero-cosi.html, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/23477
(4) http://www.grain.org/article/entries/5031-planet-palm-oil.pdf, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/23973, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24423
(5) Africa, tra palma, rapine terre e (in)sostenibilità ambientale, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24593, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24343, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24519. Maggiori informazioni su:
– Etiopia, http://www.ilfattoalimentare.it/land-grabbing.html, http://www.ilfattoalimentare.it/land-grabbing-catherine-ashton.html, http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/engineering-ethnic-conflict,
– Congo, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/21696, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/22141,
– Uganda, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24785-criticism-of-gar-and-wilmar-african-oil-palm-projects-highlight-global-no-deforestation-challenges, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24606, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24556,
– Camerun,73mila ettari rapinati per coltivare palma dal fondo americano Herakles, su http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/herakles-exposed.
– Nigeria, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24206, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24172
– Gabon, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/21237, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24608,
– Guinea, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/23778,