Growing demand for palm oil is contributing to civil strife in Colombia
, argue the authors of “Fuelling Fear: The human cost of biofuels in Colombia
,” a report published by U.K. NGO War on Want
). Global demand for the crop has doubled in the last decade, largely due to the increasing use of biofuels
, and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has made increasing biofuel production one of his administration’s priorities. The United Kingdom is one of the largest consumers of Colombian palm oil, which is also a common ingredient in baked goods and cosmetics. “[I]t is now time to question the role played by the UK government and other investors in propagating further violence and bloodshed against the Afro-Colombian communities,” insists Sue Branford, chair of War on Want, in the preface of the report.
“There is an emerging pattern of displacement and human rights violations against Afro-Colombian communities connected to palm oil cultivation,” states the report. The U.K. is accused of turning a blind eye to the land grabs, forced evictions, and other disturbing impacts palm oil cultivation has had on these communities. War on Want estimates that as much as 70 percent of the population of a mountain range in Nariño, located in the southwest corner of the country, has been forcefully evicted from their lands by paramilitaries since October 2007.