Oxfam accuses Coke and Pepsi of taking land from the poor

Land covering an area the size of Italy has been taken from indigenous communities around the world by suppliers to the biggest names in the food and drinks industry, according to a major new report. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are among the companies criticised by Oxfam for their links to land disputes, with the charity alleging that nearly 800 large-scale land deals by foreign investors have seen 33 million hectares taken into corporate ownership globally since 2000. The research – which also highlights alleged disputes with British food giant ABF – claims that poor communities from Brazil to Cambodia are losing their homes to make way for lucrative sugar crops to feed the rich world’s increasingly sweet tooth. … A Coca-Cola spokesman denied Oxfam’s allegations, saying: “Regarding the cases in Cambodia and Brazil, we sympathise with the citizens whose lives and livelihoods have been affected. While the Coca-Cola system does not buy sugar directly from any suppliers in Cambodia, we have agreed to convene a facilitated stakeholder dialogue to discuss Oxfam’s overall findings”. … The report also highlights a Cambodian example in Sre Ambel. Former residents of the town are battling to win back land they claim to have been evicted from in 2006 to make way for a sugar plantation. … A Tate & Lyle Sugars spokesman said the firm only ever received “two small shipments” from KSL in Cambodia. They added: “The claims made against Tate & Lyle Sugars are disputed.”

Jamie Merrill