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In summary, children as young as 8 years of age are trafficked onto plantations and forcibly kept there to work in harsh conditions for long hours. They are given no pay or opportunity to attend school. In many cases, they are beaten for "poor" performance, or if they try to leave the plantation.
The farming practices used on the cocoa plantations are rarely sustainable. Cocoa farmers may cut down the trees--which prevent soil erosion and provide critical wildlife habitat--on their land in order to use as much space as possible for growing cocoa plants. They may also attempt to increase yields by stepping up toxic pesticide use.
The boys on the plantations, as well the families from which they were trafficked, have no chance of breaking the cycle of poverty if they are denied education, and given no money to save. This unsustainable, and horrific, human rights violation is well-known by first-world chocolate corporations. They do little about the issue, most likely because the slavery-picked cocoa beans are cheaper to purchase than if labor wages were paid to workers. For example:
"Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland are fighting against a provision in the Farm Bill which would provide importers with a voluntary way to demonstrate to consumers that their products are harvested without the worst forms of child labor or forced labor."
Maryanne Wilkinson started this petition with a single signature, and now has 141 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.