Biopalma against indigenous Tembé in the Amazon, Brazil

The indigenous Tembé denounce the mining company VALE and Biopalma, for contaminating the water sources with agrotoxics (such as endosulfan) in the new large oil palm plantations in Pará.

Since 2006, oil palm expanded over the Pará region. The company VALE  grabbed land in this region, consequently, many people was dispossessed  from their territory and forest was destroyed [3]. According to Cimi report on violence against indigenous people [1], the indigenous peoples denounce the Biopalma da Amazônia company, a subsidiary of Vale, for the impact of the contamination of water courses by pesticides.  The company is accused of disregarding the distance from the water course (known as "igarapé" in the Amazon) that cuts through the indigenous land and of diverting too much water toward their crops. According to the community, the oil palm plantations are drying up the sources of rivers. As a consequences,  the local population are getting ill.  Since 2012, the indigenous Tembé from the North of Pará have been trying to get compensation and mitigation actions for these impacts [2]. They also mentioned that it is mainly men who find work with the companies, but working conditions are often akin to “slavery”. In 2014 the Evandro Chagas Institute confirmed water contamination with for example, endosulfan, a highly dangerous product for human health and already banned in several countries [4].  In 2016 the Biopalma company asked the the Federal Justice to ban indigenous demostration in the region of oil palm expansion.  However the  Public Ministry - MPF-, requested to the Federal Justice the cancelation of the Biopalma legal process against indigenous people, and the company to participate in a hearing with the També [5].
Basic Data
NameBiopalma against indigenous Tembé in the Amazon, Brazil
SiteTuré Mariquita and Tekinai
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Agro-toxics
Land acquisition conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific CommoditiesLand
Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
Their oil palm plantations are located in the Mojú, Tomé-açu, Concóndia do Pará, Bajaiú, Iguarapé-Miri y Acará. Oil palm employs 10,900 people. In 2012, oil palm covered 140,000 hectares in Pará, and 67% of the production went to the food and cosmetics industries and 33 % to biofuels, according to a study by agronomist D’Alembert Jaccoud [6]. Biopalma produces biodiesel for Vale's locomotives, "clean energy" allegedly saving CO2 emissions. Pará is the main producer of palm oil (dende) in Brasil.
See more...
Project Area (in hectares)140,000
Level of Investment (in USD)500,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population27,000
Start Date2006
Company Names or State EnterprisesBiopalma da Amazônia S.A (Biopalma) from Brazil
Vale S.A. (Vale) from Brazil
Relevant government actorsGobierno do Pará

Ministério Público Federal

Promotoria de Justiça, Região Agrária do Pará
International and Financial InstitutionsBanco da Amazonia (BASA) from Brazil
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersInstituto Evandro Chagas (IEC)

World Rainforest Movement (WRI)

Conselho Indigenista Missionario (CIMI)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Trade unions
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
També indigenous group
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Occupation of vehicles belonging to the company
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
OtherWater contamination by endosulfan
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
OtherIllness from water contamination with endosulfan: blisters, or rashes on their skin, fever and vomiting, also

re-emergence of illnesses such such as Chagas disease.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Potential: Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Under negotiation
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The land grabbing and the water grabbing and polluting continues. Use of endosulfan.
Sources and Materials

[5] Public Ministry web. Biopalma against indigenous manidestation
[click to view]

[6] Oil Palm Expands on Deforested Land in Brazil’s Rainforest
[click to view]

[1] Violence against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil
[click to view]


[2] Índios Tembé apreendem carros e tratores da Biopalma contra contaminação por agrotóxicos
[click to view]

[4] Contaminação por agrotóxicos é detectada em região do Pará. The renowned Public Health Institute Evandro Chagas of Belém confirmed those accusations with the detection of agrotoxins in water sources
[click to view]

Índios apreendem veículos durante protesto contra empresa no PA
[click to view]

[[7]Biopalma inaugura primeira usina de extração de óleo de palma no Pará. Assessoria de Imprensa Biopalma 26 Jun 2012. "A Biopalma da Amazônia S.A., empresa da Vale em sociedade com o Grupo MSP, inaugura hoje a sua primeira usina extratora de palma (dendê), localizada no município de Moju, a 150 km" de Belém. "
[click to view]

Media Links

Biopalma-Vale programme of oil palm production by family farming
[click to view]

Rádio Nacional da Amazônia
[click to view]

Other Documents

Source: Verena Glass/Repórter Brasil Biopalma
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorSM (ICTA-UAB)
Last update09/12/2016
Related conflicts