Special Report: Chocolate
Child Slavery vs. Fair Trade in the Chocolate Industry
The chocolate industry has been rife with human rights abuses, including slavery, but pressure from Green America other human rights organizations, and many concerned consumers is bringing about some significant progress. To ensure your money will support human rights as well as concern for the environment, see Green America's NEW Chocolate Scorecard and explanation of certification labels, updated from the 2010 Scorecard. Fair trade chocolate is expensive, but the cost of these brands to the workers--sometimes child slaves--who harvest the cocoa beans cannot be counted in money.
Mark Jabbott, reporting on his visit to Kuapa Kokoo, a large cocoa farmers' cooperative in Ghana that has a portion of its cocoa Fair Trade certified and aims to certify more, provides details of how a Fair Trade cooperative works to market the raw materials (cocoa beans) harvested by small farmers. Kuapa Kokoo owns a significant percentage of Divine Chocolate, which sells the finished products (chocolate bars, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, etc.). Divine is the first Fair Trade company that is partly owned by small farmers themselves. As investors the farmers get a share of the profits from sales of the chocolate as well as a share of the Fair Trade premium which is part of the price of each Fair Trade certified product.
An important co-op that sells Fair Trade certified chocolate as well as Fair Trade coffee, tea, bananas, and "Fair Foods" is Equal Exchange. Fair Foods adhere to standards that are consistent with Fair Trade but may or may have Fair Trade certification.
Links to Other Important Sites
Website of Documentary "The Dark Side of Chocolate". Hidden footage of illegal trafficking of African children. Watch on You Tube.
Comprehensive report on Chocolate and Child Slavery by Urban Earthworm. The author notes "The prevalence of human trafficking, child slavery, and abusive labor practices in the cacao industry is surprisingly under-reported."