Friday, August 11, 2006

Pink M&Ms & Fair Trade

A friend recently forwarded an email to me about a promotion M&M will be continuing this year with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. During September, October and November (October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month) you will be able to buy pink M&Ms and a percentage of your purchase will go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The M&M web site still has 2005 dates on its promotions page, so I'm not absolutely sure that they will be repeating the campaign.

Either way, as someone who likes to bake cupcakes, I was pretty excited about using pink M&Ms, but then I decided to do a little research on Global Exchange and CorpWatch about M&M/Mars Incorporated.

I was disturbed to find out that according to Global Exchange,
In 2001, the U.S. State Department, the International Labor Organization and others reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, source of 43% of the worlds cocoa. Subsequent research by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture revealed some 284,000 children between the ages of 9 and 12 working in hazardous conditions on West African cocoa farms. Of these children, it was reported that some 12,000 child cocoa workers that had participated in the study were likely to have arrived in their situation as a result of child trafficking.
In response to the child slavery allegations, a CorpWatch article, via AlterNet, "Africa, the Dark Side of Chocolate" states that,
In 2001, following an avalanche of negative publicity, the major chocolate companies agreed to a voluntary protocol to eliminate child labor on West African farms rather than face binding legislation from Congress that would have required them to label their products "slave free" -- a label none of the major chocolate companies would have qualified for.
And according to Global Exchange, "while this is a positive step, the Protocol and Joint Statement leaves poverty untouched and make continued slavery a possibility because they don't insure fair wages for adult workers."

I'm not saying to boycott pink M&Ms (don't take money away from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation!), but consider participating in Global Exchange's M&M/Mars campaign and write, call, fax or email M&M/Mars Incorporated and ask them to start selling Fair Trade Certified chocolate.

TransFair USA also has a big list of companies that sell Fair Trade certified chocolate, if you would like a chocolate alternative.

Update 9/28/10:  Here's a more recent post about Fair Trade chocolate, Nine Fair Trade Chocolate Bars.

Photo credit: M&M's for Breast Cancer by Sadaqah

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:29 AM

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