I came across this article yesterday and was dumbfounded by these statistics. According to a new report by the international NGO Global Witness, in 2017, paramilitaries, government troops, hired gangsters and smugglers killed 207 people (mostly in Latin America) trying to protect the environment from agribusinesses trying to set up cattle ranches and sugarcane plantations.
Note: This article and image are sourced from Huffington Post UK. Find the original article here for further reading.will know, it’s no surprise that the guilty parties were beef, palm oil and (surprise for me) banana producers.
The young man in the image above is the son of a Columbian man who was one of the 207 killed last year. His father, Mr. Bedoya, was shot 14 times by Columbian paramilitaries after he protested palm oil and banana plantations encroaching onto his community lands, per the Global Witness report. The article goes on further to note:
“For the first time, agribusinesses that produce commodities such as beef, palm oil and coffee overtook mining and natural resource extraction as the most deadly sector for the (mainly) indigenous people who work either voluntarily or professionally to protect environmental or land rights.”
As shown in the map below, Latin America is the region with the most environmental killings–Global Witness reports that roughly 60% of environmental killings took place in LatAm, with Colombia being the most deadly.
Mexico’s tropical forests have been destroyed as the result of illegal cattle ranging and avocado farming. A prominent indigenous activity, Isidro Baldenegro Lopez, was shot dead in early 2017 for protecting the forests of the Sierra Tarahumara in Northern Mexico from logging.
How can you help? Well, you may remember what I’ve said in other writings: in a capitalist society money talks and bullshit walks. Here’s what you can do immediately:
- STOP buying any products containing palm oil. Next time you go on a grocery run, start checking ingredients. If it’s got palm oil, put it back and select and alternative. If no alternative, do without.
- Share this post on social media. Inform others so that through power in numbers we can make a difference.
- Post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram–whatever social media platform–that you demand your food products doe not fuel the killing of land via mass deforestation and the killing of environmental activists. During your next grocery run, if you learn a product you used to consume regularly contains palm oil, be sure to tag these companies in your posts so they know the jig is up and that they are starting to face reputational risk.
Here are some products that contain palm oil, to make your “check” easier. You can visit this page to peel back the labels and learn why they contain it.