Land robbery and deforestation, palm oil and GMO soybeans. #Buycott!

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Palm oil and soybean (GMO) from South America, summer 2019. The hottest on record, warns UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez on 1.8.19. The ‘climate emergency‘ is to be addressed through drastic reduction of greenhouse gases, -45% by 2030.

Deforestation and the land grabbing that precedes it must be stopped . How? Stopping the consumption of all goods that are the primary cause. Palm oil, first of all. But also soy, which robs the Amazon and still feeds European animal husbandry. #Buycott!

Land grabbing, the robbery of land

Land grabbing is defined as ‘the large-scale land grabbing, acquisitions or concessions that occur:

(i) in violation of human rights, especially women’s right to equality,

(ii) without being based on the free, prior, informed consent of the communities using that land,

(iii) without being based on a careful social, economic, environmental, and gender-conducted assessment,

(iv) without being based on transparent contracts that specify clear and binding agreements on activities, jobs, and benefit spillover,

(v) without being based on effective planning conducted democratically, with impartial oversight, and a participatory approach‘. (1)

International crimes against humanity are routinely perpetrated in the name of investments in huge tracts of land, sometimes supported by public financial institutions and investment funds, such as the World Bank and Harvard University’s ‘Management Company among many.

Threats and violence, rape and murder, fires and chemical attacks serve to drive out indigenous and peasant populations who for generations and/or ancestral traditions have based their livelihoods on interaction with local ecosystems. Land robberies are carried out with the connivance of local politicians and administrators, in countries where the governance of public resources is systematically bent to private interests.

Deforestation and intensive monocultures

Land robbery is instrumental in the deforestation of the planet’s green lungs. Which-thanks to an overabundance of pristine natural resources and favorable microclimates, as well as insignificant costs-are ideal areas for planting intensive monocultures. Oil palm and GMO soybeans vie for the top spot in land grabbing and ecocide. With greenhouse gas emissions set to continue 7-8 decades after the fires, according to reports by the European Commission and Environment Protection Agency (EPA, USA).

Pesticide abuse-with severe impact on local communities and children, as well as the environment-is one piece of this perverse and unsustainable system. Broad-spectrum herbicides and pesticides are indeed used, without rules or protections, to safeguard monocultures against the natural vitality of ecosystems.

Slavery, including child slavery, completes the picture of abominations put in place by the global agribusiness finance giants to ensure the profitability of lucrative investments. With a focus on tertiarizing the most vile exploitations through partnerships and supply agreements that distance them, on paper at least, from cutthroats and slave traders. In these supply chains, as in cocoa, carnauba palm, and various others.

Palm oil and GMO soybeans in South America, the champions of the socio-ecological crisis

Oil palm monocultures continue to expand in Asia, Africa, Central and South America. Indonesia and Malaysia maintain leadership. This was followed by Thailand and Colombia. The palmocrats’ cravings extend to Borneo, New Guinea and the Philippines.

The post-Wilma Brazil (Rousseff, Partido Democrático Trabalhista, PDT), in the hands of the far-right, has also proven to be fertile ground where to rob land and deforest the Amazon. An invaluable environmental heritage, with relatively acidic soils and a typically humid climate. Ideal conditions for intensive oil palm cultivation. (2) Also useful for soybeans, whose demand seems unstoppable in the age of Soyalism.

In 2017, President Temer-who is remembered for the government’s involvement in the huge Carne Fraca scandal-granted a blanket amnesty to Amazon rainforest robberies. Each self-styled occupier was thus able to purchase up to 2,500 hectares of land, at costs reduced by 90 percent from quotations that were already below market values. Then to give them to the big landowners, farmers and cattle breeders. Who in return, with their lobbying, induced Congress to spare Temer – then under investigation for corruption – from due impeachment. (3)

Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil since 1.1.19, spurred the acceleration of the disaster. At least 133,000 hectares of forest were devastated in just a few months (+39% compared to the same period last year), according to conservative estimates. Equal to 44% of the area of Italy (301 thousand ha), slightly more than the entire area of Greece (132). To quickly clear space for intensive crops-GMO soybeans, palm oil and genetically modified corn (4)-before the international community can react.

Europe piloted by the financial oligarchies through Jean-Claude Juncker, instead of reacting to the ongoing disaster, accelerated and concluded negotiations for the largest toxic treaty ever, with the Mercosur countries. A blood pact with Brazil’s newly elected far-right president, who had already publicly stated during the campaign how vast protected areas were an obstacle to the country’s economic growth. And it had in fact refused to host the world climate conference, which was to be held in Brazil in 2020.

Unsustainable supply chains, now #Enough!

Politics tele-driven by financial plutocracies is clearly incapable of promoting the common good. To the point of continuing to negotiate and conclude agreements with countries-such as Brazil and Indonesia-where basic human rights and the ecosystem are being systematically desecrated. Moving the planet further and further away from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set in UN Agenda 2030.


Big Food
in turn continues to follow manifestly unsustainable sourcing, production and trade policies behind the chimera of greenwashing manuals that have serious shortcomings on precisely the critical points:

food sovereignty and responsible investments on lands, forests and watersheds, (5) as well as on the agrifood supply chains themselves, (6)


rights of peasants
and rural communities,

respect for workers (safety and working conditions, fair pay, union rights, child labor),

Environmental protection and biodiversity,

ecological crisis, obesity and malnutrition (
Global Syndemic
), combating food waste.

Palm oil and GMO soy, #Buycott!

#Buycott! is the only answer capable of stemming business as usual, the Profit Over People (POP) that is dragging the planet and those who inhabit it toward an already manifest dystopian reality. So let us say #Enough! to palm oil and GMO soy, let us once and for all stop the demand for these commodities of extermination, in all their industrial applications. #Enough! to their use in food, feed, cosmetics, lubricants and ‘biofuels‘, household products, etc. etc.

Pressure from below works and must involve first and foremost the youngest, in whose hands the future is entrusted as well as the present. (7) People, Planet, Prosperity is just what Millennials are asking for, equitable and sustainable supply chains for everyone and everywhere!

We need to stop the demand for the goods that come from supply chains that are incompatible with the basic principles of our civilization. This is the only way to break this vicious cycle of global human exploitation and devastation of ecosystems, including bees. Forcing ‘those who spin the wheels of the world’ to change their ways and put the word Respect at the center of their strategies. Remembering that consumAtors are the true masters of the market, that independent lever that can impose from below the turnaround in supply. Simply interrupting purchases, and thus shelf rotations of products, will be enough to shorten the time. As was already the case, thanks to the writer’s stimulus, for palm oil.

How to do it? Stop buying (those few) products that still contain palm oil, for starters. And off to a campaign to raise awareness of all companies that use GMO soy and its derivatives. We immediately demand that they review their procurement policies and establish programs to eliminate genetically modified soybeans, starting with South American soybeans, within timeframes consistent with continuity of processes. Prioritizing from the outset purchases of products from GMO Free supply chains. ‘GMO-free,’ not even in the feed on which the animals from which Made in Italy meat, eggs and dairy products are derived.

The initiative is being promoted today by GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade) together with #ÉgalitéOnlus. (8) Looking forward to the widest participation of civil society, including through associations and organizations representing shared values. Unity, now more than ever, can be strength. #NotInOurNames, #NotInOurNames, #ChangeTheEarth, #SaveTheBees, #FightInequality!

#Buycott!

Dario Dongo

Notes
(1) Definition adopted by International Land Coalition (ILC), at the assembly 26.5.11 in Tirana. V. Oxfam. (2011). The New Gold Rush, The Land Grabbing Scandal in the Global South, www.oxfamitalia.org/coltiva, 7/22/11, p. 7
(2) Leidivan A. Frazão et al. (2012). Soil carbon stocks and changes after oil palm introduction in the Brazilian Amazon. CGB Bioenergy, Volume 5, Issue 4, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1757-1707.2012.01196.x
(3) http://www.rinnovabili.it/ambiente/presidente-brasile-legalizza-land-grabbing-333/
(4) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/28/world/americas/brazil-deforestation-amazon-bolsonaro.html?fbclid=IwAR1Sh5jvc_23sE3mSKTxiV04LTONp76eV52s8ytFK_i4m8dbtlToTMknhnU
(5) FAO, Committee on World Food Security (CFS), The Voluntary Guidelines on the Tenure of Land Fisheries and Forests, 9.3.12, at http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/nr/land_tenure/pdf/VG_en_Final_March_2012.pdf
(6) FAO, Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, 15.10.14, http://www.fao.org/3/a-au866e.pdf
(7) UN, ‘The World in 2050,’ TWI2050. V. https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/il-mondo-nel-2050-trasformazioni-necessarie
(8) SEE https://www.egalite.org/brasile-cataclisma-pesticidi-buycott-soia-ogm-e-palma/