Differing Perspectives

The production of palm oil is a topic of great debate and dispute in Colombia. On the one side, it is an economically viable business that is bringing in a lot of international money and is boosting Colombia’s economy. On the other side, it is very destructive to the environment and has destroyed the lives of many people who have been pushed off their land to make room for palm plantations. Palm oil is one of Colombia’s biggest industries and President Uribe is behind it 100%. He wants to make Colombia the world’s biggest producer of palm oil and he plans do that by more than doubling the acreage of palm trees planted. Economically, this would be good for Colombia since it gives them a foothold in the global market, which helps to stimulate more business internally as well as externally. This would also politically benefit Colombia. If Colombia becomes the biggest producer of palm oil, many companies and countries will depend on Colombia and have to curry favor with the government.
Palm oil production isn’t really good for the Colombian environment or its people. Other trees have to be cut down in order to plant the palm trees and make room for factories as well as build roads to reach the trees and the factories. This decreases the diversity of plant and animal life in Colombia, which isn’t a good thing since diversity in the world is decreasing at an extremely fast pace already. The people in Colombia are also suffering from the expanding palm oil industry. Many of them are being pushed off their lands so that big companies can plant palm trees and get all the benefits from palm oil. More than 3.8 million people have been internally displaced as a result of huge palm plantations being established. Not only does it affect these people economically, but also culturally. They have to find a new way of life than the one they’ve lived for hundreds of years in a country that doesn’t want them around.
I found an article that talks about many of the negative effects the palm oil industry has had on Colombia. They name one company in particular as an example of one that has destroyed the lives of many people, as well as contributed to environmental degradation. The company is called the Daabon company and they sell palm oil to cosmetics companies like The Body Shop. The article talks about how the Daabon group convinced police and a judge to illegally evict campesinos from their land in order to plant palm trees. Obviously this company is up to no good and people it’s a shame that the wants of the global north are the driving force behind this kind of activity, according to the article.
While I was looking for videos to put in my presentation, I stumbled upon a video that talks about sustainable palm oil production in Colombia. Ironically enough, the star of the video was the Daabon group. The video talked about how the Daabon group worked towards sustainable agriculture by not cutting down many trees and leaving 9% of their land palm tree free. Also, according to the video, local farmers are included in the process and work for the company and/or sell their own palm to the company to be processed. The Daabon group seems like a great company since it’s trying its best to reduce the nasty side effects of being a big company while still making a relatively good profit.
I think the two opposing perspectives are interesting and it makes me take a step back and look at my notes a bit. It’s a good lesson at taking everything with a grain of salt. The article and video portray two completely opposite opinions so if I wanted to find out which one is closer to the truth, I’d have to do more research and gather a few more articles and/or videos to come to a conclusion.
Here are links to the article and the video:

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