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Old 02-14-2007, 03:37 PM   #1
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The Misery of Your Valentine Chocolates

Because I feel a responsibility to speak these children's pain and to hopefully help to alleviate their suffering:


http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/...inion-leftrail



EDITORIAL

Child-labor chocolates

The cocoa industry is an important one for West African economies, but it also relies on children sold into slavery.

February 14, 2007



LEONARDO DICAPRIO hasn't yet turned up in a movie about Blood Chocolate, but as valentines from coast to coast open heart-shaped boxes of bonbons today, they might give some thought to an industry that is nearly as harmful to human rights in Africa today as the diamond trade was a decade ago.


About 70% of the world's cocoa is grown in West Africa, with Ivory Coast accounting for about 40%. Just as blood diamonds helped finance some of Africa's most brutal wars, cocoa helps subsidize political instability and bloodshed in Ivory Coast. But chocolate's bitter aftertaste comes from the fact that the industry is a magnet for child slavery.


One of the sad facts of life in West Africa is that poor parents sometimes sell their children into indentured servitude, in some cases selling a year of slave labor for about the same price as a large box of See's nuts and chews. Children as young as 9 are taken from their homes to work in the cacao fields, with frequent whippings, no schooling and no family contact.


A 2002 report by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture said 284,000 children labored in West Africa's cocoa industry, 200,000 of them in Ivory Coast. Not all of them are slaves — some are just kids helping out on the family farm. The difficulty of identifying the bad guys complicates efforts to curb child trafficking.


There's no reason to throw away your Valentine's chocolates. Not only is a consumer boycott impractical, it would probably do more harm than good because West Africa's economy is reliant on cocoa, and anything that hurts the industry would just worsen the desperation that drives people to sell their children. One way to be socially conscious without going through chocolate withdrawal is to seek out Fair Trade chocolate.


There has been talk about certifying cocoa producers who agree not to use child labor, but it has gone nowhere. It's unclear whether confectioners are failing to make a good-faith effort or are simply stymied by the difficulty of certifying far-flung cocoa producers in countries as violent and unstable as Ivory Coast. Certification helped clean up the diamond industry and could be effective, but more pressure will probably have to be brought to bear on the big chocolatiers before it becomes a reality in the cocoa trade.


Meanwhile, those who already feel guilty enough about indulging in high-calorie treats without adding child exploitation to the mix can always go with vanilla.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please click on this link to learn more about this subject and find out where you can buy fair-trade chocolates:


http://www.globalexchange.org/campai...tines2007.html



Please do this for the children of West Africa and elsewhere.
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Old 02-14-2007, 04:12 PM   #2
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http://forum.interference.com/showth...hreadid=154147
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Old 02-14-2007, 06:31 PM   #3
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What's sad, Bonochick, is that this issue is still around a year later.


I think an issue of child exploitation and virtual child slavery isn't a bad issue to visit once a year in FYM.


In fact, I wish there were MORE threads that were informative on such serious issues here.


Enjoy your Valentine's Day - I wish these children could.
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Old 02-14-2007, 07:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jamila

In fact, I wish there were MORE threads that were informative on such serious issues here.
http://forum.interference.com/t172898.html
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Old 02-14-2007, 09:41 PM   #5
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That's very sad. Now whenever I have some chocolate I'll think of the children of West Africa, and how they were forced to make it for me. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-14-2007, 09:50 PM   #6
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Re: The Misery of Your Valentine Chocolates

Quote:
In an article posted by Jamila
Just as blood diamonds helped finance some of Africa's most brutal wars, cocoa helps subsidize political instability and bloodshed in Ivory Coast.
How? Why?
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Old 02-15-2007, 12:21 AM   #7
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seal skin,diamonds,ivory,sneakers,designer clothes,gold,whale skin,animal fur....things people want so bad they dont care where it comes from,as long as there is a demand nothing will change.
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Old 02-15-2007, 10:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jamila
What's sad, Bonochick, is that this issue is still around a year later.
I realize that it hasn't gone away...I just figured I'd throw up your post from last year for additional reading, should anybody be so inclined.
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Old 02-15-2007, 10:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by u2fan628
seal skin,diamonds,ivory,sneakers,designer clothes,gold,whale skin,animal fur....things people want so bad they dont care where it comes from,as long as there is a demand nothing will change.

I think that was the underlying point of the editorial...and of why I posted it.


I wanted to see the response that the editorial would get in this forum - and I wasn't surprised by the response.


Your response, u2fan628, gives me hope for the future.



Thank you - as I'm sure that the children forced to pick the cocoa beans to make our commercial chocolates would thank you.
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Old 02-15-2007, 10:44 AM   #10
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coffee too....
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Old 02-15-2007, 03:49 PM   #11
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More info on this topic:


While chocolate is sweet for us, it can be heartbreaking for the hundreds of thousands of child laborers that pick the cocoa that goes into some of our favorite treats.


In 2001, the U.S. State Department, the International Labor Organization and others reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, source of 43% of the worlds cocoa. Subsequent research by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture revealed some 284,000 children between the ages of 9 and 12 working in hazardous conditions on West African cocoa farms. Of these children, it was reported that some 12,000 child cocoa workers that had participated in the study were likely to have arrived in their situation as a result of child trafficking.


In 2001, this unacceptable practice caught the attention of the media and the government, and the American public began to voice their abhorrence of the use of child slave labor in the production of one of their most beloved treats: chocolate. In response, the US chocolate industry agreed (via the Harken-Engel Protocol) to voluntarily take steps to end child slavery on cocoa farms by July of 2005.


Unfortunately, this deadline has now passed, and the chocolate industry has failed to comply with the terms of this agreement. As a result, Global Exchange is spearheading a campaign that will provide an opportunity for communities nationwide to voice their concerns about the chocolate industry's abuse of children's rights.


The solution to unfair labor practices is FAIR TRADE (denoted by the "Fair Trade Certified" or "Fair Trade Federation" labels). Fair Trade guarantees producers the income they need to send their children to school and pay their workers fair wages, and provides consumers with a trusted guarantee that no forced or abusive child labor was used in the making of their products.

Since 2002, Global Exchange has been demanding that the US chocolate industry end labor abuses by selling Fair Trade chocolate. Consumers also need to take action to ensure that their favorite products are free from child labor. In larger numbers, we can make it clear that we will accept nothing less than Fair Trade from World's Finest Chocolate, Nestle, M&M/Mars, and rest of the US chocolate industry.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.globalexchange.org/campai...irtrade/cocoa/


I hope that this info is helpful for those who are especially concerned about children and fair trade with Africa because these are the areas that this issue is closest to.


And some of the issues closest to my heart.
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Old 02-16-2007, 01:54 AM   #12
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GOOD LUCK!
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Old 02-16-2007, 11:01 AM   #13
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In todays paper it says that the Hershey Co. is moving a large portion of their operation to Mexico. 1500 people will lose their jobs.I hope the kids in Mexico are ready to work!
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Old 02-16-2007, 11:38 AM   #14
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i feel guilty honestly
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Old 02-16-2007, 03:24 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by europop2005
i feel guilty honestly

europop2005, thank you for your very honest response to the info provided in this thread.


I truly appreciate it when people take the time to really not only understand an issue intellectually but to FEEL that issue emotionally.

And that what you've done.


I have felt this same way too about eating commercial chocolates after first learning about these children's plight years ago and have had to make a lot of changes to my behavior because of it.



For one, although I love chocolate, I have cut my intake of commercial chocolate tremendously.


I also have taken up eating more fair trade chocolate when I get the need for the taste of it.

That is much more expensive than commercial chocolate but I feel much better when eating it.



Lastly, here is a bit of a "cheat" trick that I picked up from one of the sites regarding fair trade chocolates:

if you really need that chocolate fix, then wait until AFTER the holiday (Halloween,Christmas, Valentine's Day,etc) to buy SMALL quantities of commercial chocolates.


WHY?

Because after the holiday, when the chocolates are marked down, the supply chain actually will not make the profit on the product that they originally intended to.

This will hopefully encourage a bit less of the product to be manufactured for the following year.



Anyway, these are just some ideas, but I TRULY APPRECIATE those who have cared enough about the future of these children to learn more and to DO MORE about this issue.


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