The Not for Sale Campaign is running a campaign to put pressure on Hershey to ensure there is no slavery in their supply chain. Read on to find out why this is even necessary, and what you can do about the problem.
What’s the situation?
It has been fairly well-documented that slavery is involved in cocoa harvesting. Cocoa is mainly grown in wstern Africa, and specifically in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. According to AlertNet, in 2001 many large chocolate companies admitted that child and adult slave labor harvested their beans, and said they would monitor themselves to eliminate slavery from their supply chains.
But rather than eliminate child slavery, they “promised to reduce child labor by 50 percent in two West African countries by 2008″ (The Dark Side of Slavery, AlertNet).
According to the fourth annual Tulane University report, Ghana has identified 11,600 child slaves alone, not including adults. Children are trafficked from neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali between the ages of 5-17 for this grueling work in both Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
This is an illustration of where human trafficking meets the Millenium Development Goals (MDG’s). According to an MSNBC report (in pictures. See it here.), many families “sell” their children to cocoa farmers because they are soo poor and can’t send their children to school. The MDG’s seek to “[e]nsure that, by 2015, children everywhere…will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.” They also seek to “[h]alve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.”
In addition to Western countries being held accountable for their actions and not allowing the solicitation of slaves to work in their supplier fields, efforts to eliminate poverty and increase educational opportunities seem like they could reduce the amount of slavery used in cocoa production.
Organic = slave free?
An important misconception is that organic = slave free. Since organic food products have become hugely lucrative, companies that are not committed to social responsibility now produce lots of organic food and may not be concerned with slavery in their supply chains. Some chocolate companies use the phrase “ethical sourcing” on their lables, but this does not mean slave free, and may be a form of “green-washing” (Slave Free Chocolate).
So what can you do?
- First, you can commit to only purchasing slave free chocolate. The surest way to buy slave-free chocolate is to purchase either only those chocolate sthat have the “Fair Trade” label on their products.
- In your local grocery store, you are likely to find either Newman’s Own or Equal Exchange products. Both are slave-free products. If your grocery store doesn’t carry them (or other Fair Trade products), you and some friends can start an advocacy campaign asking them to.
- You can participate in the Not for Sale Raise the Bar! Campaign. The website has a postcard you can send to Hershey, and ideas for hosting a House Party film night.
- You can also go to ChainStoreReaction and sign petitions to major chocolate manufacturers asking them to take slavery out of their supply chain.
To see if your favorite chocolate is slave free, check out the Stop Chocolate Slavery Slave Free Chocolate list.