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Palm Oil & Sugar cane

Families are being burnt out of their homes for big business to grow crops to satisfy the demand for cheap food products

Palm Oil - Trocaire

"There were many, many police, army and security contractors at the eviction. I begged them not to burn my house and crops but they went ahead. They could have killed us but we ran away.”

This was the night that José Cuc Cuz (45) and his family were forced to flee their home. Their houses were burnt to the ground.

In the Polochic Valley in northern Guatemala, indigenous communities live on lands their ancestors lived on for hundreds of years.

But the land is valuable. Big businesses want it to grow sugarcane or palm oil, or to use it for mining.

When José’s house was burnt down that night in 2011, they were one of 750 families to be evicted to make way for large sugarcane plantations. Several people were injured and one man was killed.

It ends up in your shopping trolley

José and his family are one of hundreds of families in this region under threat from the growth of large industrial farms, set up to feed the growing global demand for raw products like palm oil and sugarcane.

Palm oil is used in a range of products in our supermarkets, including food and cosmetics, while sugar is a key ingredient for food and drinks companies globally.

The demand for these raw products is huge. Companies are increasingly on the hunt for land to grow these crops at a huge scale. Even if this sometimes means people losing their lands, or rainforests being cut down.

But it’s not just about food products

The palm oil and sugarcane sectors are examples of where some hugely powerful global companies are violating the human rights of people like José in order to ‘make a killing’ selling consumer products. Yet human rights abuses are happening in many other areas of the global economy, such as in mining and fossil fuel extraction.

This is why we are campaigning for an international treaty on business and human rights. So that companies across all sectors have to respect human rights, no matter what their area of business is.

Want to learn more? Read: “11 reasons why we need a treaty”

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