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Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Dark Side of Chocolate

Monday, the FREE Project hosted a screening of the film The Dark Side of Chocolate, sponsored by George Washington University (GWU) Elliott School Institute for Global and International Studies

The film reveals the hidden practices of the chocolate industry, including the use of child slaves on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast. Afterward, there was a question and answer session with Sean Rudolph, Campaigns Director of the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF). 

The ILRF is campaigning against two organizations, Hershey's and Whole Foods. Why these two companies? Well, Hershey's owns Dagoba chocolate, an organic high-quality brand of chocolate that makes up a very small percentage of the chocolate products sold by Hershey's and is sold in the Whole Foods markets. Unfortunately, Hershey's has been known to be a participant in child labor and the non-fair trade market through their supply chains. Many other food cooperatives have refused to support Dagoba chocolate until Hershey's proves that it is willing to commit to ending child slave labor in West Africa where much of its chocolate comes from. 

Rudolph mentioned that some of the governments of these African countries are trying to find solutions to the child slave labor problem with cocoa companies. Child labor is a significant issue in West Africa, especially in countries such as the Ivory Coast. An estimated 1.8 million children in West Africa are in the cocoa industry. The First Lady of the Ivory Coast is trying to hold cocoa companies accountable by making it so that these companies have her approval before continuing their work. In Ghana, the government, buys all cocoa products and sets prices. Still, part of the problem is the inequality of the supply chains. The governments of these African countries have some control, but they do not necessarily have as much power over multinational companies as one may think they do. The campaign, called Raise the Bar, Hershey!, seeks to gather support in urging the Hershey Company to commit to ethically sourced, Fair Trade cocoa.

Although I love Hershey's candy, I do not approve of their use of child labor. I've joined the Raise the Bar, Hershey! campaign and have committed myself to not purchasing Hershey's products until the Hershey Company commits to ending this problem.

Support the raise the Bar, Hershey! campaign. Also, support the Bridge to Freedom Foundation by registering or donating to our team for the 2012 DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk!!! Go to sms.kintera.org/btff.

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