The world’s second largest cosmetic franchise, the Body Shop, has dropped its palm oil supplier in Colombia after reports of the forced removal of peasant farmers from a new plantation.
The Guardian newspaper reports that following a nine month investigation by the company, the Body Shop has broken all commercial ties with Daabon Organic, which provided the cosmetic giant with 90% of its palm oil.
Daabon Organic was part of a consortium which bought 2,700 acres of land approximately 200 miles north of Bogota, then asked the courts to remove the peasant farmers living there. In July 2009, police in riot gear forcibly evicted over 100 peasants.
Many of the farmers had been cultivating the land for over 10 years. They had been moved off the land by paramilitaries in 2006, but had moved back six months later, and were in the process of taking the legal steps necessary to secure the land. According to the law in Colombia, ownership can be granted to farmers who work on abandoned land for over three years.
Catherine Bouley, a representative of Christian Aid, an NGO supporting the farmers, praised the decision of the Body Shop, saying “We very much hope Daabon will heed the very strong signal sent by the Body Shop, that their behavior is unacceptable.”
The Body Shop has marketed itself as the “ethical beauty brand” which supports fair trade and human rights, and is focused on sustainability.
A leader of the community of farmers, Misael Payares expressed his satisfaction with the decision of the Body Shop saying, “Daabon knows now that the world is watching.”