Did you know that Mars, a leading global chocolate company, cannot guarantee that their chocolate is ‘traffik free’?
FACT: the ILO (International Labour Organisation) state it is highly likely slave labour is used in Mars’s cocoa production chain.
FACT: a significant proportion of these slaves are trafficked children.
35% of the world’s cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast, a nation in West Africa. Research supported by the ILO suggests that in the Ivory Coast alone there are at least 200,000 children working in slave conditions on cocoa farms. Thousands of these children have been trafficked into the Ivory Coast, originally from neighbouring countries such as Mali, Togo and Burkina Faso.
Children working on these farms are forced to do dangerous tasks. They spray pesticide onto cocoa plants without protective clothing. They carry sacks that are excessively heavy and use machetes without supervision or guidance.
Children are severely undernourished and overworked. They are separated from their families by force. They are denied education.
According to Mars, there is no way to trace the origins of their cocoa beans. This is because they are bought from middle-men who buy their beans from different farms.
Can Mars really claim ignorance of this situation?
The answer is clearly NO.
Mars is powerful and rich enough to dictate the terms on which it buys cocoa beans and has the money to check farming conditions and pay a better price for their beans.
It is difficult to understand why chocolate companies haven’t really tried to eradicate the worst forms of chid labour. Perhaps these companies are trying to keep the cost of chocolate low for their consumer, or to increase profits? Either way, this situation is not good enough.
Mars is losing its credibility, especially in the face of Cadbury’s recent decision to make Dairy Milk (the UK’s favourite chocolate bar) a fairtrade product by the end of summer 2009.
If Cadbury can do it, why not Mars? What planet is Mars on?