Monday, 30 March 2015

Drink Coffee And Eat Chocolate? You Could Be Supporting The Slave Trade!

Both coffee and chocolate are hugely popular products in the UK with a huge market and both coffee and chocolate also offer many benefits - chocolate is amazingly good for the brain and coffee can help prevent bowel cancer.

However, in 2011 a report entitled List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor was released by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) which showed that 130 products produced by 71 different countries are manufactured with the use of child labour or forced labour. 

According to the report, both sugarcane and coffee are shortlisted as agricultural products that are produced by children. According to the report, cultivation via the use of child labour is prevalent in the two leading exporters of coffee in the world: Colombia and Guatemala.

It has also been noted that coffee for Ivory Roast, who are responsible for a large amount of Robusta coffee (used in espresso, instant and ground coffees), has also been produced via the use of both child labour and forced labour. Most of the coffee growers in the world receive lower than 1% of the amount consumers pay for a cappacino and around 6% of the amount paid for coffee at supermarkets.

According to Global Exchange, Guatemalan plantation workers have to pick a hundred pounds of coffee before they are permitted the minimum wage of approximate three dollars per day and often have no choice but to bring their children to work with them, to ensure they don't fail to meet their quota... and it's not just coffee!

In 2011 a U.S. government-funded study by Tulane University reported that over 1.8 million children in West Africa are involved in the cultivation of cocoa. Also in 2011, Humphrey Hawksley of the BBC reported that it was commonplace to see "children carrying machetes or pesticide equipment" with scars on their legs from the machetes, no protective clothing and no access to first aid.

Thankfully, we do not necessarily have to resort to supporting the slave trade when buying and consuming coffee and chocolate, as there is also the option of buying Fair-Trade certified products - which means the workers are paid fair wages and are free from exploitation whilst working in healthy conditions... supposedly.

However, there is currently nowhere near enough demand as there should be for these products and so it seems that the slave trade continues to be unwittingly supported.

[ Image: Electrolito at WikiMedia Commons - ]

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