14/05/2008 (Ligali) - A recent report by London based advocacy group War and Want has revealed how Britain’s excessive consumption of chocolate is fuelling a war by rightwing paramilitary groups upon the indigenous and African Colombian people.
In order to economically benefit from the British demand for palm oil based products, thousands of African Colombian people have been violently forced of their land to make way for palm oil plantations. Palm oil is a key ingredient in chocolate, cakes and crisps. A recent article in the Guardian newspaper also revealed that “British consumers have become the biggest export market for the controversial crop which is used in margarine and pastries as well as toothpaste, soap and detergents and cosmetics”.
Colombias government is promoting the use of the crop as a biofuel and a legitimate alternative to coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine.
People killed to meet international demand
The War on Want report states; “The UK, despite being one of the largest consumers of Colombia’s palm oil products, remains unaware of the devastating impact of cultivation of this crop on the lives of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities… the chocolate, margarine or soap that we see on supermarket shelves contains palm oil that has a good chance of coming from a country where thousands of people are being forced of their land, some of them brutally killed, in order to meet international demand”.
There are ethical sources for the purchase of these types of goods, like the African British based organisation Akoma that works in collaboration with African suppliers through investment, training and development. Akoma is owned 100% by a Ghanaian who is committed to empowering people to improve their lives.