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Information for consumers about how their spending habits affect human rights, animal rights and welfare, and the environment.

Recent News

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2014 September 30: NPR report says Europeans worry the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will lower food safety requirements.

The TTIP is being promoted by the U.S. in secretive talks with the European Union. Much of what is known about it is the result of leaks. The European Union operates on the precautionary principle in regard to food safety, and objects to procedures common in the U.S. such as chlorine baths to control salmonella in chicken carcasses, hormones to fatten up cattle faster, and genetically engineered crops (GMOs).

2014 September 25: China Digital Times article says "Foxconn Reluctantly Bringing Democracy to Chinese Labor".

"Foxconn, the manufacturing contractor responsible for assembling as much as 40% of the world’s consumer electronics [such as Apple iPads and iPhones and many brands of computers], has achieved infamy for shoddy labor conditions, worker suicides, and the use of underpaid and underaged student interns." Worker shortages in China are forcing Foxconn and other companies to make some conciliatory gestures toward workers' rights to organize. Workers are winning rights to vote for their union representatives, but the unions them selves are state controlled, and although large labor protests in China have been widespread recently, the government has vigorously censored news of them in the Chinese press and social media.

2014 September 16: Truthout article says socially responsible investment (SRI) funds still contribute to human rights abuses.

Many of these funds are still replete with highly profitable technology stocks, such as Apple and Samsung, that have ongoing human rights abuses. Kevin Slaten of China Labor Watch says the Corporate Social Responsibility Reports that many SRI fund managers rely on are really just public relations tools. "Companies like Apple are "paying for audits instead of investing money to address the problems," he says.

The article says a more effective way to bring about change is a divestment campaign, such as the one that brought about the end of apartheid in South Africa. "Groups like and We Divest are using divestment for their own causes, trying to slow global warming and bring justice to Palestine."

2014 September 7: New York Times Business Day article: Just 13, and Working Risky 12-Hour Shifts in the Tobacco Fields

Teen-agers in North Carolina harvesting tobacco plants can be exposed to nicotine poisoning, pesticides, and dehydration--risks that are greater for children than adults due to physical and neurological characteristics. In the face of strong opposition from farmers and politicians, labor officials have been unsuccessful in banning work in tobacco fields and with tractors for children under 16.

"Federal law allows those 12 and older to work on farms for unlimited hours, as long as there is no conflict with school. For nonfarm work, federal law sets 14 as the minimum age and restricts work for children under 16 to eight hours a day."

Fair Trade News: Fair World Project works to protect the strength and integrity of the term fair trade.

Older news has been moved to In the News and can be searched by date or category. Still older news can be searched in the Archives.

Of Special Concern

Special Report: Chocolate

2013: How to make sure your chocolate purchases do not support child slavery.

Special Report: Torture

There is hope! Please see the post on a January 2012 anti-torture resolution by the city of Chicago, and how other municipalities can do the same. If you do not see it at first, refresh the page by clicking the refresh button on your browser bar or pressing the f5 key.

Special Report: Fair Trade

2013 update summarizes changes in standards and controversy over increasing availability of products with the certification by making it easier to get certified vs. maintaining more rigorous standards. Fair World Project offers suggestions for resolving the conflict by making product labels more transparent about percentage of ingredients that are certified.

Special Report: Modern-Day Slavery

2012 Oct. 3: good news!Green America reports that Hershey Co. "will be certifying 100 percent of its cocoa by 2020 and urged the chocolate giant to go 100 percent Fair Trade with incremental benchmarks."

2012 Oct. 5: more good news! Chipotle signed the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Trader Joe's signed back in February 2012.