Thursday, September 23, 2004

The next time you get a craving for M&M's or a Snickers bar, consider the forced child labor that made your chocolate fix possible.
The world's largest chocolate maker, M&M/Mars has still refused to endorse Fair Trade chocolate, meaning that it is still the largest purchaser of cocoa from Cote D'Ivoire, where 43% of the world's cocoa is produced. Groups like the ILO, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, and even the U.S. State Department have consistently reported the use of forced child labor in Ivory Coast cocoa farms. A 2002 study by the IITA estimated that 284,000 children, many of them immigrants brought in from countries like Burkina Faso by child traffickers, are working in the Ivory Coast farms. Mars, meanwhile, refuses to agree to minimum price levels and the rest of the Fair Trade chocolate program, which includes prohibitions on child labor. All so that we can have M&M/Mars' shitty chocolate (400 million M&Ms produced every day) at low prices.
I love chocolate as much as the next girl, but the thought of little kids working long hours for almost no pay makes me never want to purchase an M&M/Mars product again. Guess I'll be sticking with the Sundrops from Whole Foods, and other labor-friendly chocolate sources from now on!