<P class=MsoBodyText style="MARGIN: 0in -0.75in 0pt 0in"><SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </SPAN>With the recent passing of Valentine’s Day which is profoundly associated with the giving and receiving of chocolate, one will find that there has been a concentrated effort and subsequent movement toward a social issue involving the fair trade of chocolate.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>In the past, we have heard of the lobbying that seeks to protect the growers of coffee beans, sugar and even grapes that have made a substantial impact on consumerism regarding the buying practices of these products in the United States in particular.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>Although the lobbying issues concerning fair trade issues are not new, the issues at hand as they relate to chocolate and those who produce the raw goods may be. Consumer advocate groups and global activists are beginning to raise ethical questions with reference to consumerism as it relates to chocolate to the forefront as a way to bring forth protection for farmers of the raw cocoa beans and the unfair global trade practices that have ensued. This has caused widespread labor exploitations for farmers from West Africa and Southeast Asia to Brazil.
<P class=MsoBodyText style="MARGIN: 0in -0.75in 0pt 0in"><SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </SPAN>There are an estimated 200,000 children working the cocoa bean plantations, which are consequently sold as slaves and subjected to countless hours of backbreaking labor to bring this commodity to market. (www.globalmarch.org) The biggest chocolate producer worldwide, the Mars Corporation, upholds the exploitation of small family farmers by buying cocoa made as a result of unethical child labor practices.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>The typical price for a chocolate bar in this country is about sixty cents.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>The typical cocoa bean farmer receives less that one penny per bar. This practice forces these farmers to include their entire families into the business as a means to support themselves on wages that do not provide children with the opportunities to go to school.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>Children as young as 9 years old are forced to work the plantations, beaten on a regular basis and are underfed. (Wheeland 2) Most chocolate lovers have probably never considered the fact that the chocolate that they hold in such high regard comes at the expense of the Other.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>The U.S. State Department conducted a recent investigation concerning these issues in which they studied 1,500 small farms on the Ivory Coast and found young children performing under shocking conditions that include working in unprotected environments using tools like machetes and spraying pesticides. Additionally, these same children had no relatives in the region suggesting that they were products of the cocoa bean slave trade industry. (www.regenerationtv.com)
<P class=MsoBodyText style="MARGIN: 0in -0.75in 0pt 0in"><SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </SPAN>Some U.S. chocolate manufacturers have pledged to support the global need to squash child labor exploitation practice, but have done little to guarantee a fair economic trade policy that would bring an end to the misery created by these unfair practices. The Mars Corporation in an attempt to seem as if they are working toward a global solution to bring an end to the unequal practice of buying chocolate below fair trade standards, pride themselves in the ideology that stands behind their company policy. <I>The Five Principles,</I> which include: quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom. The Mars Corporation maintains these as their standards for fair business. These principles do more to undercut global trade practice than they do to insure its evenhandedness.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>For instance, their claims that “mutuality describes the company’s effort to promote success for everyone who comes into contact with the Mars Corporation on any given level from the suppliers that deliver quality goods to the loyal customer,’’ (www.mars.com) does not live up to its pledge.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>Take into consideration that Mars, the leading chocolate manufacturer worldwide, which brings in an estimated 13 billion dollars annually, in its effort to bring about mutual satisfaction for everyone involved, pays the average cocoa farmer an approximate annual salary of $30 to $108 per capita.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>(www.salt.claretianpubs.org) It is no wonder that the whole family must be incorporated into the business just to provide the most basic amenities alone. Moreover, the Mars Corporation affirms their commitment to “ the reshaping and building of a worldwide market economy” that is reflective of their so-called whole business approach which actually contradicts the main recurring themes of innovation and worldwide inclusion.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>The poverty experienced by those that bring this product to market comes at the hand of corporations like Mars, that manipulates the world market in an effort to keep profits soaring while the small grower continues to have no choice other than to keep their children out of school in the fields contradicts every attempt to legitimize Mars’ domination of the worldwide chocolate industry overall.
<P class=MsoBodyText style="MARGIN: 0in -0.75in 0pt 0in"><SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </SPAN>Recently, the Mars corporation has pledged to work towards taking steps to eliminate child slavery by the year 2005.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>Their plan however, does not include a plan to pay decent salaries to adult laborers, which is the only way to insure that the exploitation of children across the boards will be abolished.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>The Fair Trade Commission offers a comprehensive plan that may eradicate these appalling social conditions.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>
<P class=MsoBodyText style="MARGIN: 0in -0.75in 0pt 0in"><SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </SPAN>The Global Exchange is currently seeking the aid of the public to bring an end to the miserable conditions of the Other.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>Mars’ recent campaign to allow the shopper to vote on new colors for M&amp;M candies provides an excellent opportunity for the public to voice its outrage over the unfair practice of child labor.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>The Fair Trade Commission is asking that consumers assist in swaying votes in favor of the color of dignity and freedom rather than participate in the demeaning practice that seeks to oppress the humble cocoa farmers of the Ivory Coast.
<P class=MsoHeader style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; tab-stops: .5in">&nbsp;<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o:p></o:p>