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November 2, 2012

Is the chocolate we eat produced with the use of child labour and trafficked children?  The award winning Danish journalist Miki Mistrati decides to investigate the rumors. While we enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate, the reality is strikingly different for African children. In 2001 consumers around the world were outraged to discover that child labor and slavery, trafficking, and other abuses existed on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, a country that produces nearly half the world’s cocoa. An avalanche of negative publicity and consumer demands for answers and solutions soon followed. Two members of US Congress, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Representative Eliot Engel of New York, tackled the issue by adding a rider to an agricultural bill proposing a federal system to certify and label chocolate products as slave free. The measure passed the House of Representatives and created a potential disaster for Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Mars, Hershey’s, Nestle, Barry Callebaut, Saf-Cacao and other chocolate manufacturers. To avoid legislation that would have forced chocolate companies to label their products with “no child labor” labels (for which many major chocolate manufacturers wouldn’t qualify), the industry fought back and finally agreed to a voluntary protocol to end abusive and forced child labor on cocoa farms by 2005. The chocolate industry fought back. Ultimately, a compromise was reached to end child labor on Ivory Coast cocoa farms by 2005. In 2005 the cocoa industry failed to comply with the protocol’s terms, and a new deadline for 2008 was established. In 2008 the terms of the protocol were still not met, and yet another deadline for 2010 was set. Almost a decade after the chocolate companies, concerned governments and specially foundations spent millions of dollars in an effort to eradicate child labor and trafficking in the international cocoa trade, has anything changed? Miki Mistrati and U Roberto Romano launch a behind-the-scenes investigation and verify if these allegations of child labor in the chocolate industry are present today. –
Source: Link

His hunt for answers brings him to Mali in West Africa, where hidden footage reveals illegal trafficking of small children to the cocoa fields in neighbouring Ivory Coast.  Kids as young as seven years old work illegal in the plantations where they face a dangerous job cutting down the cocoa and carrying heavy loads.  Some are victims of trafficking and most of the kids are never paid. The West African country of Ivory Coast is the worlds largest producer of cocoa with more than 40% of the worlds production. Companies like Nestle, Barry Callebaut and Mars signed the Cocoa Protocol in 2001 promising to work for a total aradication of child labour in to cocoa sector by 2008. Does your favourite chocolate have a bitter taste?  Follow Miki Mistrati into the bush of Africa to expose; The Dark Side Of Chocolate.
Source: Mistrati 2010. Link

“Trafficked children working in Western African cocoa farms face some of the most hazardous and exhausting working conditions. Child slaves work excessive hours, are forced to do highly repetitive tasks, spray pesticides with no protection, are subjected to physical abuse from overseers, and receive little or no health care.”
Source: Nagle 2008. Link

Chocolate may be our most accessible vice. Unlike caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or sex, it is the fix we can buy, store, transport and consume anywhere, all day long. But most of the chocolate available to us is bad, gastronomically and morally.
Source – Unknown

The Global chocolate and cocoa industry condemns the use of forced or indentured child labour in the cocoa supply chain. Furthermore, it is our hope that anyone associated with Bastard TV Production, who may have witnessed such conduct took it upon themselves to immediately contact the proper authorities. In West Africa, 90% of cocoa is grown on small family farms. In Cote d’Ivoire alone, over 600,000 families live in some of the most remote parts of the country and depend on cocoa for their livelihood. The vast majority of cocoa farms are not owned by the companies that make chocolate or supply cocoa and we therefore don’t have direct control over cocoa farming and labour practices. Before our work began nearly a decade ago, there was little understanding of the nature of working practices in Cote d’Ivoire, but a clear commitment by the industry that children should not be working on cocoa farms at the expense of their schooling or exposed to potentially hazardous farm tasks. After 7 years of field surveys in the Cote d’Ivoire, independent third party organisations have verified the data and concluded that the incidence of forced child labour is extremely small. For nearly ten years now, the Government of Cote d’Ivoire, Industry, Non-governmental Organisations and a host of other international organisations including the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) and ILO, have committed vast resources in an unprecedented effort to eliminate the worst forms of child labour from the production of cocoa. Ending these practices begins with changing traditional farming methods U many of which have been conducted for more than 100 years. We collectively have spent more than $75 million and support nearly 40 programmes throughout West Africa that provide cocoa farming families and their communities with the following:

Greater opportunities for economic development
As a result, participating farmers are now earning 20% and in some cases 55% more in income.

Teaching farmers about acceptable labour practices
The International Cocoa Initiative engages with farmers about the dangers cocoa farming children face. This dialogue is central to getting cocoa communities to commit to a lasting change through self-monitoring and community-led farmer outreach. In Campement in the Cote d’Ivoire for example; there has been a 20% fall in children using machetes, 35% fewer children are carrying heavy loads and 25% drop in children spraying pesticides.

Equal access to quality education.

We know that the more time children spend in school, the less time they have to work on the family farm. Therefore, we have programmes dedicated to improving access to traditional schools, improving the quality of education at those schools, and training more teachers to grow the number of schools. Our belief is that no child should ever be harmed in the farming of cocoa. In addition to industry programmes, we remain committed to support government and our global partners in the pursuit of sustainable cocoa farming, helping farmers, families and children achieve a better life.

Statement from the Global Chocolate and Cocoa Industry, 19 January 2010 Link

“While the best way to end labor abuse in the fields us to raise cocoa prices and commit to fair trade certification and monitoring, the big companies are using their collective global market clout to suppress prices and to resist paying fair wages to growers and workers. The major chocolate manufactures, predominantly U.S. based, have had many opportunities to help stabilize the world market at sufficient prices; however, their failure to do so renders these corporations complicit in the child labor scandals in the developing world.”
Source: Nagle 2008. Link

In 2001, consumers around the world were outraged to discover that child labor and slavery, trafficking, and other abuses existed on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, a country that produces nearly half the world’s cocoa. An avalanche of negative publicity and consumer demands for answers and solutions soon followed. To avoid legislation that would have forced chocolate companies to label their products with ”no child labor” labels (for which many major chocolate manufacturers wouldn’t qualify), the industry fought back and finally agreed to a voluntary protocol to end abusive and forced child labor on cocoa farms by 2005. The chocolate industry fought back. Ultimately, a compromise was reached to end child labor on Ivory Coast cocoa farms by 2005. In 2005 the cocoa industry failed to comply with the protocol’s terms, and a new deadline for 2008 was established.  In 2008 the terms of the protocol were still not met, and yet another deadline for 2010 was set. Almost a decade after the chocolate companies, concerned governments and specially foundations spent millions of dollars in an effort to eradicate child labor and trafficking in the international cocoa
trade, has anything changed? Miki Mistrati and U Roberto Romano launch a behind-the-scenes investigation and verify if these allegations of child labor in the chocolate industry are present today.
Source: Link

“It appears that now we live in a world in which the rule is inequality for many and prosperity for a few within and between nations; a world in which everything is a commodity with an economic value and a market price to be traded and sold, including our fellow human beings.”
Source: Nagle 2008. Link

The horrendous conditions under which children must toil on the cocoa farms of the Cote d’Ivoire are even more jarring when the facts are juxtaposed with the idea that much of the cocoa will ultimately end up producing something that most people associate with happiness and pleasure: chocolate
Source: Chanthavong 2002 Link

“Globalization and regional integration have contributed to human trafficking becoming the fastest growing and the third most widespread criminal enterprise in the world after drugs and weapons trafficking…The crimes perpetrated by human traffickers constitute egregious human rights abuses and crimes against international law.” Source: Nagle 2008. Link

“Of the cocoa consumed in the United States [in 2005], 59 percent originated the West African nation of Ivory Coast, which supplies more than 38 percent of the world’s cocoa and derives 40 percent of its total export revenues from cocoa exports.”
Source: Nagle 2008. Link

“Ironically, one approach that could succeed may be the one that does not try to attack trafficking as a separate goal, but places it in the larger context of the underlying social and economic problems it exposes. The causes of trafficking, as has been stated, include the low status of women, as well as the weakness or corruption of law enforcement officials and poverty. Successful programs must not only promote government integrity, but must be woven into a larger anti-poverty, sustainable development response.”
Source: Lyday and Adviser 2000 Link

“In 2001, by signing onto what became known as the Harkin-Engel Protocol, U.S. Senator Thomas Harkin and Congressman Eliot Engel challenged the cocoa industry to comply with child labor prohibitions established by the International Labour Organization Convention 182. Following intense negotiations with the major U.S. chocolate companies, the Protocol laid out a series of date-specific actions, including the development of credible, mutually acceptable, voluntary industry wide standards of public certification by July 1 of 2005 to address the worst forms of child and forced labor in the cocoa industry’s worldwide supply chain.”
Source: Nagle 2008. Link

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