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12 Sep 2017

Etelle Higonnet, Marisa Bellantonio and Glenn Hurowitz, Mighty Earth (USA)

Chocolate's dark secret. How the Cocoa Industry Destroys National Parks

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Thousands of miles away from the American and European homes where the majority of the world’s chocolate is devoured, lies the denuded landscape of West Africa’s Ivory Coast. The nation is the world’s largest producer of cocoa, the raw material for chocolate. Mighty Earth conducted an in-depth global investigation into the cocoa that provides the raw material for chocolate. These companies purchase the cocoa for their chocolate bars from large agribusiness companies like Olam, Cargill, and Barry Callebaut, who together control around half of global cocoa trade...the investigation found that for years the world’s major chocolate companies have been buying cocoa grown through the illegal deforestation of national parks and other protected forests, in addition to driving extensive deforestation outside of protected areas. In the world’s two largest cocoa producing countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana, the market created by the chocolate industry has been the primary driver behind the destruction of forests. Many of Ivory Coast’s national parks and protected areas have been entirely or almost entirely cleared of forest and replaced with cocoa growing operations. In neighboring Ghana, the situation is similar...This report shows that the chocolate industry must immediately end its illegal and destructive practices, remediate past damage, and take concrete action to ensure that its mistakes in Ivory Coast are not repeated...we found three of the world’s largest cocoa traders—Olam, Cargill, and Barry Callebaut—buying cocoa grown illegally in protected areas. These traders are responsible for selling cocoa to the world’s largest chocolate companies like Mars, Hershey, Mondelez, Ferrero, and others...the chocolate industry is notorious for labor rights abuses including slave labor and child labor. According to the US Department of Labor, “21 percent more children are illegally laboring on cocoa farms in Ghana and The Ivory Coast than five years ago.” An estimated 2.1 million West African children are still engaged in dangerous, physically taxing cocoa harvesting. Rather than eliminate the problem, the industry has merely pledged to reduce child labor in Ivory Coast and Ghana by 70% by 2020...[The report recommands that]...the cocoa industry and governments should pool resources to monitor deforestation and enforce compliance with zero deforestation policies...Cocoa expansion should be done in ways that protect indigenous community rights, including the right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). The chocolate industry and affected governments should also ensure that cocoa farmers receive a living wage, that forced labor is prohibited, and action is taken to discourage illegal child labor. Use of hazardous pesticides should be immediately eliminated...[Also referst to Mars, Cadbury, Lindt & Sprungli, Godiva, Kraft, Starbrucks].