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COLUMN: Chocolate industry built on blood and sweat of child slaves

Treats have started filling store aisles, each candy packaged in orange and black and other Halloween-centric imagery.

Halloween offers a bounty of goods as a treat for children knocking at each door. But one staple of the season, chocolate, has a dark, sinister side associated with it.

Chocolate, a $13-million industry, is made from the fruit of the cacao tree. Cacao pods contain nibs that are crushed to make unsweetened chocolate.

According to the BBC documentary “Slavery: A Global Investigation,” slaves were being abused on the cocoa farms. This story caused a public relations nightmare for the chocolate industries in the U.S. in 2001.

In the film, a freed slave said, “You are eating my flesh,” describing the torment of harvesting chocolate.

West Africa is the world’s largest supplier of cocoa beans, providing 43 percent of the world’s supply. The documentary exposed the labor practices on these farms.

According to the documentary “The Dark Side of Chocolate,” children are slaving away harvesting cocoa, before Western chocolate kings Hershey and Mars Inc. buy it, keeping prices low and profits high.

Slavery-produced chocolate was supposed to be banned by now in America and chocolate companies were supposed to adhere to the Harkin-Engel Protocol of 2001.

According to the protocol, the chocolate industry was to develop and implement credible, voluntary and industry-wide standards of public certification, which would take effect by July 1, 2005. Five years later, slavery is still an issue.

Anti-slavery coalition Stop The Traffik claims Ivory Coast plantations have bought 12,000 child slaves since 2005. These children are fed little, beaten daily and some have lost limbs as punishment for attempted escape.

William Wilberforce, a British slave trade abolitionist in the 1800s, was able to organize a successful sugar boycott which helped end slavery in England. Why can’t Americans successfully boycott chocolate?

Perhaps money and cheap products is all people care about.

Some change has happened, some chocolate companies have taken steps to end these brutal practices. More awareness is still needed.

A few simple things can be done. Start with finding out where fair trade chocolate is sold.

Perhaps a Halloween chocolate boycott across this nation would get the attention of chocolate companies.

Reforms inevitably mean less profit for the chocolate industry because the farmers would have to pay legal workers. It also means that consumers have to pay a little more too.

People who value human life should not mind that.

11 Comments

  1. Instead of blindly jumping on the 'fair trade' bandwagon, do a bit a research. Fair Trade only sets a *floor* for commodity prices, in other words a minimum price that the farmer must be paid. But did you know that the Fair Trade price floor for cocoa is actually BELOW current market prices, and has been for a few years? The current Fair Trade price is around $1700-1800 per ton. Meanwhile the current market prices have been over $3000 for most of 2010. In other words, buying Fair Trade chocolate does not provide more money to the struggling farmers – they get more money by selling their crops at ongoing market prices.

  2. Michmediaperson says:

    I'm not boycotting. In fact, I'm buying all-chocolate and extra chocolate to pass out at Halloween.

    Why blame the chocolate industry. Why not blame the African countries? They could put a stop to it. They're making money. And, these families are making $$$ putting their kids to work.

    Lonnie, are you CMU and Mt. Pleasant liberals going to work to get CMU and Mt. Pleasant businesses to stop selling chocolate? I highly doubt CMU and Mt. Pleasant businesses are going to lose money but not selling delicious Hershey and Mars products. I also assume chocolate cake is in the same situation.

    By paying more for chocolate products, you're going to hurt poor people in this country who eat chocolate. Pay a little more? You're going to hurt poor people's pocketbook.

    And, who was the president, by the way, who signed this legislation? Clinton? Nope!!! Obama? Nope!!! It was the great President George W. Bush!!!

    I'm not giving up chocolate. Nor, are Americans! Tell the Ivory Coast and those countries to quit making the profits! Don't hit my wallet!!!

    • Michmediaperson, you're absolutely shameful.

      First of all, African countries have little power in comparison to multinational corporations. Politicians there, much like in America, sell out workers to get a slice of the pie. They can put a stop to it in the same way that America has put a stop to the fraud on wall-street…when elites profit from the slavery of the people, who gives a shit? It's the 'free' market and anyone who gets in the way of profits is a 'liberal'. BTW, your understanding and definition of the word liberal has been obfuscated by the left vs. right paradigm, which is meant to make you angry at liberals. Look up 'classical liberal education' on google to find out the origins of the word, as well as why people have spent the last century vilifying it.

      The absolutely dreadful argument that was shouldn't blame chocolate companies because they're just making a profit off of African's non-existent labor laws is pathetic. I honestly wish your child was in Africa right now so that when they collapsed due to exhaustion, you could be there to defend the practice in the name of the free market. It'd be nice for people to actually understand that the reason they get things so 'cheaply' is because someone else was a slave. If the day ever comes where you or your family are these slaves, I expect you not to complain.

      In fact, I expect you to continue being boxed in to your miserably 'liberals are evil' ideology that strips you of any empathy or critical thinking. Fox and Rush have told you enough times to hate the little man because that's just a pussy liberal ideal, so if you're ever working slave labor I expect you to not complain and continue not having a shred of human dignity.

      • Dumbf ,but they are all evil. Don't you think people who kill babies are evil ? I do.

      • Michmediaperson says:

        Dumbf, all those African countries have to do is tell Hershey, Mars, etc., that they will pay X-wages….it can be $10 an hour, $15 an hour, 40 hours a week.

        So, why don't these African leaders do this?????????

        If they're not going to do this, then Hershey and the chocolate companies have it made.

        The African country leaders are probably making a lot of $$$ at the hands of these people.

        Blame the African leaders, not the chocolate companies.

        In the meantime, let's see if the multiculturalists at CMU and in Mt. Pleasant quit selling chocolate products. I doubt it since they want the revenue. Instead of buying people gift certificates from now on, I'm going to buy them boxes of chocolates.

        • The African leaders are to blame, yes. But for you to suggest that the chocolate companies don't have any part in the equation is moronic. Yes, the companies have it made because local labor laws allow slavery. You are justifying their actions because hey, they're making a lot of money and that's what really matters. It's the American way, isn't it? As long as profits are high, who cares if the person that made the product is a slave.

          Your logic of placing more blame on the African leaders is a callous removal of ethics and responsibility. I imagine if you were around during slavery in America, you'd argue that the slave owners were just making a killing, and that the real people to blame are the Africans who sold out their fellow countrymen.

          But I'm sure you claim to be a good Christian who cares about life, just like Timbankful. The classic ignorance/hypocrisy of the pro-life movement. They care about life, but only before it's actually born. Once a baby is born, who cares about it? I'm not wasting my tax dollars on welfare programs. Instead, I'll support pro-life candidates who are ironically also pro-war. And when someone mentions this hypocrisy, I'll conveniently ignore that fact and pretend I have the moral superiority because I'm a good 'Christian'.

          Respect all life no matter where it is. And remember, Jesus hated capitalist exploitation, and would not have defended any sin in the name of profit.

    • Is Glen Beck a terrorist? says:

      “And, these families are making $$$ putting their kids to work.”
      If only your parents had sold you into slavery, then you wouldn't be posting such idiocy.

      “And, who was the president, by the way, who signed this legislation? Clinton? Nope!!! Obama? Nope!!! It was the great President George W. Bush!!!”
      Considering that, had it had the intended effect, it would have increased prices, shouldn't you be mad that he signed it?

      • Michmediaperson says:

        Bush did the right thing. The right compassionate thing.

        It's the African leaders who are screwing their own people. It's their fault, not Hershey.

        If this is so bad, per Lonnie Allen and the Far Left, then why isn't Barack Hussein Obama prohibiting these products from Africa from entering this country???????????????????

        Hmmm???????????????????????????????

        Obviously, he doesn't care about those people, especially kids, in slavery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Typical socialist and liberal!!!!

        • Is Glen Beck a terrorist? says:

          “Bush did the right thing. The right compassionate thing.”
          Which accomplished nothing.

          More `look at the scary name!!!!!!` nonsense, yet again: simply “Bush” vs. the needlessly specific “Barack Hussein Obama.”

          “why isn't Barack Hussein Obama prohibiting these products from Africa from entering this country???????????????????”
          What if he did? You'd be screeching all the louder against him.

          “It's the African leaders who are screwing their own people.”
          So you acknowledge there's indeed a problem.

          And your contribution is:
          “I'm not boycotting. In fact, I'm buying all-chocolate and extra chocolate to pass out at Halloween.”

  3. Yes and the rise of women to economic and political power was built upon the blood and mangled human tissue of 70 million unborn babies. Lets end abortion on demand: “People who value human life should not mind that.”

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