Nick Miroff has a great article in tomorrow’s Washington Post about palm oil in Colombia:
…the palm industry’s rapid expansion is yielding new evidence of a boom that benefited from the displacement of small farmers, indigenous groups and others by the armed conflict. Several of the regions where palm has spread during the past decade are places notorious for paramilitary violence and rural terror, like the north coast outside Cartagena, the Venezuela border region and the southeastern plains of the Meta department, where Mapiripan is located.
As the government and the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, now attempt to reach a peace accord to end the fighting, Colombia faces the painstaking task of trying to sort out what happened in Mapiripan and other places like it, and how to move forward.
Central to the dispute is a clashing vision of rural development, between the traditional model that has been partly destroyed by the violence and an agribusiness vision that promises growth, jobs and modernization through the spread of commodity crops like African palm.
Pork, ham, loin: name your corpse, it’s dead pig. And in Chile, more than half of it comes from AgroSuper, whose world’s biggest pork plant is now in the news. The pitch for these big industrial agricultural facilities is always that they’ll keep consumer prices down. Let’s see how that’s going, looking at prices in Santiago, according to the government’s Agricultural Studies and Policy Office.
All prices are in Chilean pesos. To get a sense of what these prices mean, minimum wage has climbed from 159,000 pesos a month to 182,000 pesos a month during this period. Let’s assume that people work 22 days a month. Take the most extreme case, that of costillar at the supermarket. A worker could get it for 3,000 pesos at the end of 2008, or 2.4 kilos for a day’s basic wages. This year, it’s averaging 5,000 pesos a kilo, or 1.65 kilos for a day’s work. That’s a big change. Continue reading
SuperCerdo, producer of more than half of Chile’s pig meat, is having a problem at its hog facility in Freirina, in the copper-producing Coquimbo Region north of Santiago. SuperCerdo’s parent, AgroSuper, got permission to build the facility in 2005, and opened last year after USD$200 million in investment, according to AgroSuper’s Dec. 2 investor presentation. The company said in that presentation it was doubling capacity to 3.8 million hogs a year — better than 1 hog for every 5 humans in the entire country. Total investment at the site was to be USD$800 million.
But the locals around the plant started agitating because of foul odors, which by some reports are noticeable as much as 5 km (3 miles) away. No one paid any attention to these complaints until locals started to block roads. The roadblocks turned into battles of kids with stones vs. national police with water cannons, and AgroSuper staff abandoned the plant several days ago. Last night, Health Minister Jaime Mañalich called the situation a “catastrophe.” Here’s what he told Radio BioBio (my translation): Continue reading
A circumstantial story, but it’s certainly worth asking whether high dolphin deaths come from seismic exploration for offshore oil. And yes, there are many other possible causes — but oil exploration is something that can be halted, paused or done differently if needed.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has the story. There is some BS in the post, and a lot of speculation, but it’s very much worth reading.:
The recent uptick in dolphin deaths is also correlated with oil exploration off Peru’s coasts, a serious double whammy for cetacean populations….
Turn on your BS filter and check it out.