For Immediate Release
The New Sweet Deal for Chocolate Farmers
Minneapolis, MN - The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy will highlight the successes of Fair Trade chocolate cooperatives at events to be held next door to the World Trade Organization meetings September 10-14 in Cancun, Mexico.
The world’s chocolate lovers were stunned last year when reports revealed that much of the chocolate trade was plagued with corrupt labor practices using children as virtual slaves in unsafe working conditions. The United Agency for International Development (USAID) reported in July of 2002 that an estimated 300,000 West African children (more than 1/2 of them under 14 years old) work in dangerous conditions on cocoa farms. 6,000 of them are "unpaid workers with no family ties" - which, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), is the definition of child laborers.
The good news is that Fair Trade chocolate cooperatives have formed. By implementing improved labor practices such as safe working conditions, Fair Trade cocoa co-ops are thriving in eight countries worldwide: Ghana, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Belize, Cameroon, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Fair Trade certification guarantees that all ILO standards are met on certified farms, preventing slave labor abuses and ensuring that children who work on family farms are able to attend school and do not work with dangerous equipment or chemicals.
More good news is that while the U.S. is the largest consumer of chocolate in the world, US consumers are increasingly demanding that their chocolate be produced under Fair Trade guidelines. Worldwide, sixteen countries including USA, Europe, UK and Scandinavia are selling and buying Fair Trade chocolate.
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