Voting With Our WalletsPosted: January 21, 2012
CNN ran this article this morning;
In “Chocolate’s Child Slaves,” CNN’s David McKenzie travels into the heart of the Ivory Coast to investigate children working in the cocoa fields. (Premieres Friday January 20, 8 p.m. GMT, 9 CET on CNN International.)
By David McKenzie and Brent Swails, CNN
Daloa, Ivory Coast (CNN) – Chocolate’s billion-dollar industry starts with workers like Abdul. He squats with a gang of a dozen harvesters on an Ivory Coast farm.
Abdul holds the yellow cocoa pod lengthwise and gives it two quick cracks, snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He dumps the beans on a growing pile.
Abdul is 10 years old, a three-year veteran of the job.
He has never tasted chocolate.
During the course of an investigation for CNN’s Freedom Project initiative – an investigation that went deep into the cocoa fields of Ivory Coast – a team of CNN journalists found that child labor, trafficking and slavery are rife in an industry that produces some of the world’s best-known brands.
It was not supposed to be this way.
After a series of news reports surfaced in 2001 about gross violations in the cocoa industry, lawmakers in the United States put immense pressure on the industry to change.
“We felt like the public ought to know about it, and we ought to take some action to try to stop it,” said Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, who, together with Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, spearheaded the response. “How many people in America know that all this chocolate they are eating – candies and all of those wonderful chocolates – is being produced by terrible child labor?”
But after intense lobbying by the cocoa industry, lawmakers weren’t able to push through a law. What they got was a voluntary protocol, signed by the heads of the chocolate industry, to stop the worst forms of child labor “as a matter of urgency.” One of the key goals was to certify the cocoa trade as child-labor free.
“It was meant to achieve the end of child slave labor in cocoa fields,” Engel said.
UNICEF estimates that nearly a half-million children work on farms across Ivory Coast, which produces nearly 40% of the world’s supply of cocoa. The agency says hundreds of thousands of children, many of them trafficked across borders, are engaged in the worst forms of child labor.
A recent study by Tulane University says the industry’s efforts to stop child labor are “uneven” and “incomplete” and that 97% of Ivory Coast’s farmers had not been reached. But the industry’s main representative in the country disagrees with the assessment.
“I think the situation has improved exponentially,” said Rabola Kagohi, country director for the International Cocoa Initiative, the chocolate industry’s answer to fighting child labor and trafficking. “Today, the message is physically getting through.”
Kagohi works out of a basement office with one other permanent employee.
“There are some results,” he said. “I wish that you had spoken to some planters.”
None of the farmers CNN spoke to in the heart of the cocoa production region said they had ever been reached by the International Cocoa Initiative, the government or chocolate companies about child trafficking.More……
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Bu voting when you shop, with your choices. There are two options that I found easy to use; And here are a few websites to check on the brand you are choosing while shopping;