Despite noble prevention efforts from international human rights' groups, rampant exploitation and slavery of workers in the cocoa industry continues. About 3.6 million children work on cocoa farms, largely in Ivory Coast and Ghana, which produce about 60 percent of the world's chocolate, earning very little to no pay under horrific conditions, according to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Blame American companies like Mars and Cargill, which process 400,000 tons of cocoa each year and demand that prices stay low. Under Congress' watered-down 2001 Harkin-Engel Protocol, American chocolate companies volunteered to create and adopt their own standards to eliminate child slavery and develop certification systems for labor standards. But they've largely failed to do so, according to a 2009 Tulane University study. Investigative journalist Christian Parenti has described so-called aid efforts as mostly talk — Cargill and other corporations have refused to accept higher price thresholds, working with the corrupt Ivory Coast government and thwarting local farmers' attempts to unionize. More corporate consolidation has only further pressured farmers to keep costs low.
Tell the CEOs of Hersey's and Mars, the world's largest chocolate manufacturers, and of Cargill, one of the top five global processors of cocoa beans, that we don't want unjust, "blood" chocolate. Sign this petition to demand they adopt a new certification system verifying all of their cocoa is Fair Trade, harvested under safe conditions by farmers paid fair wages. Fair, sustainable chocolate tastes far more sweet.
We urge you to adopt Fair Trade certification and standards for all of your corporation's chocolate, guaranteeing farmers earn a living wage and allowing them to unionize. I and others in my community buy and prefer Fair Trade chocolate, knowing that it came from farmers and workers who earned a fair wage under safe, just conditions. This sustainable chocolate tastes far more sweet.
Please enact this certification now and truly act on your commitment to end "blood chocolate."