Our partners at Oxfam have discovered that a sugar company in Brazil has forced a small community from its land and sent a gang of thugs to burn down 53 families’ homes — all to supply sugar to companies like Coke and Pepsi. In Cambodia, a major sugar company drove hundreds of families from their land — because they no longer had documentation they lost during the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.
These horror stories are only the tip of the iceberg. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been alerted, but they’ve failed to implement policies to stop their suppliers from grabbing land. Now we need to show them that consumers are ready to hold them accountable.
For the last decade, the price of sugar and other agricultural commodities has skyrocketed, and investors have gobbled up more than 33 million hectares of land in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, frequently displacing people who lived and worked on the land for generations.
As food prices skyrocket, small farmers are losing their livelihoods along with their homes. Indigenous communities are having their traditional ways of life destroyed as their ancestral hunting and farming land is seized to make way for sugar production. And sugar producers frequently resort to violence and intimidation to drive people off their land when they can’t evict them legally.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are some of the world’s largest purchasers of sugar, and they have the power to hold sugar growers accountable for grabbing land and displacing small farmers. By adopting zero-tolerance policies for land grabs, the beverage giants could ensure that sugar producers can’t afford to drive poor farmers off their land. But right now, Coke and Pepsi don’t even bother to monitor their suppliers’ behavior.
The only way these companies will change their ways is if consumers stand up and make them. We know that the SumOfUs community can convince beverage companies to take a stand for human rights — just last year we got Pepsi to speak out against Uganda’s “kill the gays” law. Now we need to come together again to ensure that the beverage industry doesn’t profit by robbing impoverished farmers.
Thanks for all you do,
Rob, Angus, Paul and the rest of us
Oxfam accuses Coke and Pepsi of taking land from the poor, The Independent, 02 October 2013.