27 Oct 2009

Body shop cosmetics make farmers homeless!

Boycott Body Shop and use Lush (they have banned palm oil, Lush must be the only actual green business, I thought green business was an oxy moron!)

Just got this, don't suppose you have to be a Christian to get involved!

Christians take action against Body Shop in London this Thursday – to stop buying palm oil from a Colombian company involved in the displacement of small farmers

On Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009, in central London, Christian Peacemaker Teams will again ask The Body Shop to stop buying palm oil from a Colombian company involved in the displacement of small farmers.

Can you join a team visiting several Body Shop outlets in London to express our concerns, from 9 a.m. onwards? Or can you join us all together for a closing action at 4 p.m. at the Body Shop outlet at 268 Oxford Street, GB W1C (just west of Oxford Circus station)? Can you pass this invitation along to others?

Daabon Organics, the primary supplier of palm oil to The Body Shop, has played a pivotal role in the recent displacement of 500 women, men and children from the Colombian farming community of Las Pavas in order to obtain land for a new palm plantation. You can read more about their displacement at http://www.cptuk.org.uk

The Body Shop says on their website that they believe, "all people have a right...to be treated with respect," and "For years we've campaigned against injustices, stood up for the vulnerable." The Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) in Colombia has appealed to The Body Shop to address this unjust action by their supplier. To date The Body Shop has denied any responsibility for this displacement.

For more information about either activity or to join us, email Tim Nafziger at nafziger@gmail.com

You can also invite others to the Facebook event at

I bet all those Labour Ministers who do the trade deals will actually be buying more hand creams from the Body Shop on hearing this news!

Daabon Organics, a Colombian firm that provides the British chain with 90% of all its palm oil, was part of a consortium that asked the courts to remove farmers from a sprawling ranch 320km north of the capital Bogotá with a plan to grow African palm. Police in riot gear evicted the farmers in July.

Now solicitors for 123 peasant farmers and their families are appealing against the decision with the backing of a British charity. They say that some locals had lived and worked on the land for more than 10 years and had already applied for the right to own it under Colombian law before the consortium bought it.

The disclosure will embarrass the Body Shop, which has claimed that it respects the rights of local farmers in developing countries and uses Daabon's oil to make the equivalent of 7.5 million bars of soap every year. It will also highlight the many battles between farmers and palm oil companies across the globe as the product becomes increasingly lucrative.

"The Body Shop should reconsider its decision to buy palm oil from Daabon in the light of this conflict," said Catherine Bouley of Christian Aid, which is backing the farmers' legal action. "The Colombian government would like to triple the area under palm cultivation, which will only exacerbate the problem of displacement." The dispute began in December 2006 when Daabon's subsidiary CI Tequendama and a partner company bought Las Pavas, a 1,100-hectare (2,700-acre) ranch in Southern Bolivar province. The consortium applied for an eviction order in January this year which was enforced in July.

Solicitors acting for the peasant farmers claim that the consortium should have been aware that the land had been home to families who had been cultivating crops including plantain, maize and squash for more than 10 years.

The peasants say they had previously been forced off the land in mid-2006 by paramilitary groups, but had moved back some six months later and made a legal submission to own it for good. Under Colombian law, ownership can be granted to farmers who have occupied abandoned land for more than three years.

Banessa Estrada, a solicitor for the peasants, said that the families had formed a co-operative and submitted an official claim on the land in mid-2006, several months before the consortium's purchase. "It was an illegal eviction because they did not take into account the claim of the land made by the peasants," she said.

Another palm oil company had taken an interest in buying the land in 2006, but had backed down after discussions with the peasants, campaigners claim.

A small group of farmers returned to the ranch last week for the first time since their eviction – with a reporter.

Misael Payares, leader of the peasants' association, pointed to a row of recently felled trees by the side of a new road. "This is what a supposedly ecologically friendly company is doing," he said.

Ader Rojas, who grew plantain on the ranch, said much of the plot had been churned up. The wooden shelter he built near the plot had been destroyed and a bog near his land had been drained. "This was all I had," he said.

The evicted peasants have set up a camp in the schoolyard of the nearby village. Over open fires, they prepare meals of corn fritters and cheese for the 500 men, women and children with food donated by aid agencies.

The Body Shop, which is the world's second largest cosmetics franchise and has 2,400 stores in 61 countries, was founded by the late Dame Anita Roddick and is now part of L'Oréal group.

Its distinctive eco-friendly image – it was the first British cosmetics chain to introduce refillable bottles – has been preserved by L'Oréal and it continues to campaign for the rights of local producers. In June 2007, while announcing its deal with Daabon, The Body Shop called on manufacturers and retailers to follow its lead to help slow the drastic environmental and social effects of unsustainable production.

"We have changed our entire soap range to be manufactured using palm oil from one of the leading sustainable plantations – Daabon in Colombia," it said in a press release. "We have commissioned our own audit and visited the plantation to ensure the protection and welfare of communities, workers and the surrounding jungle is preserved.

"Production impacts on the rights of indigenous populations, often creates poor labour conditions and has severe health implications for women working on the plantations," it read.

The Body Shop has a current commitment to community trade by seeking out small-scale farmers, traditional craftspeople, rural co-operatives and even tribal villages, according to the company's website.

Daabon, a certified organic producer, is a family-run company that was set up in 1914 but has grown substantially over the past five years. It now has 714 office in Colombia and 28 offices in other countries including the US, Germany, Japan, and Australia. Alberto Davila, Daabon's president, has been photographed embracing Colombia's president Dr Alvaro Uribe Vélez.

The demand for palm oil has soared over the past 15 years and it is found in foods such as margarine, crisps and chocolate, as well as in soap, cosmetics and biofuel.

The oil is used as a hardener in a wide range of personal care products. It was present in 497 products launched globally in 2007 compared with 246 in 2006, according to market researchers.

But the growth has led to a backlash from environmental groups concerned that forests across the tropics are being cut down to make way for plantations, destroying habitat for endangered species and resulting in the displacement of local people.

This report is from an excellent blog here.


TimN said...

Thanks Derek. We'd love to have anybody who can join us (Christian Peacemaker Teams) for the action outside the Oxford Street Body Shop tomorrow at 4 pm!

Derek Wall said...

Hi Tim,

good luck, I am off to Bristol tomorrow to promote the inside the revolution film about Venezuela....

so alas I will not be with you, but good luck

Anonymous said...

Since when did being a christian entitle people to trade one injustice for another? I've been a
customer of this company for years and their reputation is above reproach.
Grow up Christians. Have you bought
any hand cream?

Derek Wall said...

Do you work for Body Shop?

Or is it you simply don't care about human rights abuse and environmental destructiong?

Stewart in Colombia said...

An update on this issue:

Body Shop has dropped Daabon as its supplier, but Daabon --the supposedly socially and environmentally conscious organic Palm-Oil grower--is now backing away from its earlier promise to return the land to the campesinos, and is threatening the displaced farmers and anyone who helps them return to the land with legal action. The community displaced community is experiencing a food crisis.

See: https://ui.constantcontact.com/rnavmap/evaluate.rnav/pidDe0xrakrM9pFsT4IGsXX94

Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles

Derek Wall ’s article entitled  Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles , argues that Ma...