Child Labor-Free Cocoa ‘Almost Impossible,’ Nestlé Chairman Says

According to the chairman of Nestlé SA, one of the world’s largest buyers of cocoa, it’s “nearly impossible” to end the practice, Dow Jones reports.  Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, whose company has come under fire in the past for purchasing cocoa from countries where child exploitation occurs, went on to say: “It’s a very fine edge. You cannot say that no child can work in a rural environment. That is almost impossible. What we try to ensure is that they have access to schooling.” “If they have the access to good schooling, then the child labour as such, if it is helping the fathers in the field and helping with the harvesting, I don’t think this is a problem,” he said, according to Reuters. “The problem is when you use the children only for that and don’t allow them to go to school.”  >> View Full Story


COMMENTS ON THIS ARTICLE:
Emdubya
1:46 PM on March 23, 2011
Describing the issue as simply one of “child labour” is misleading in the extreme. The real issue is slavery in the production of chocolate, including child slavery. It’s well-documented in the Cote d’Ivoire, where 40% of the worlds cocoa is produced. To try to cast the debate as one that is only about whether children should have the opportunity to support their families on cocoa farms is dishonest. Not to mention that those children who are not slaves may nonetheless be very young. Over 30% of children under 15 work in agriculture, much of it cocoa production, mainly for subsistence. It’s not the same as Switzerland where participation in the harvest is merely cultural.

CentreWing Ontarian
1:55 PM on March 23, 2011
Almost impossible? So it’s not impossible. Make it possible. Make it happen. Thank you.

2468ten
1:39 PM on March 23, 2011
Read Carol Off’s excellent book “Bittersweet” to find out more about the horrors of the Ivory Coast cocoa trade. Child labour? More like child slavery. A child is quoted as saying something to this effect: when you eat chocolate, you eat my flesh. Look for fair trade, and hope there’s truth in labelling.

Emdubya
1:51 PM on March 23, 2011
I’d like to add to my earlier statement that Nestlé’s position on child labour and slavery makes it “almost impossible for me to buy their products.”

time2evolve
2:36 PM on March 23, 2011
The article ends with “If children have access to schooling, is child labour okay? Would you still buy that chocolate?”

Not from the likes of Nestle!

For one, “child labour” says nothing of the actual conditions of these children, so it is difficult to make such a judgement based on this single ‘fact’.

But there are many other ethical reasons to avoid companies like Nestle

These guys also knowingly used sleazy marketing tactics to get poor, developing world mothers to switch from breast milk to baby milk formula (which they could neither afford nor mix with clean water… many children died as a result).

Not to mention that their push to acquire palm oil at any cost is driving the orangutan into extinction.

Child labour is but one of many reasons to boycot companies like Nestle

Bob_J1
2:36 PM on March 23, 2011
I find highly Offensive, Hypocritical & Disingenuous for the Head of one of the largest Multi-National Corporations to compare Swiss Kids harvesting Wine on Holidays to Starving destitute African Kids.

Also alarming is the use of Palm Kernel Oil from Indonesia etc that kills Orangutan Habitat.

I quit Nestle Products & now only buy Fair Trade Organic Food.

jimmy smith
2:29 PM on March 23, 2011
“Child labour-free cocoa ‘almost impossible,’ Nestlé head says”

between the lines what he is really saying is that he and Nestle board of directors are only caring about “bottom line” and are indifferent, maybe even support child slavery in Ivory Coast.

do not call it “labour”, it is slavery situation.

personally I advise you to stay away from products by this company. instead of leading to changes that would reduce and eliminate child slavery from chocolate, they prefer to PR us that it is not possible.

I purchase my chocolate products only from certified Fair Trade producers, it costs me just a few dollars extra a month

Blagger
4:15 PM on March 23, 2011
If we can’t even agree that exploiting children for profit is a bad thing, then what hope is there for humanity?

Would it kill you to pay a little bit more for a chocolate bar or can of cocoa? Would it be the end of the world if Nestle made little bit less profit each year? It’s not like Nestle is just scraping by. I wonder how much their executives get paid, compared to what these poor kids are paid.

j howe
2:57 PM on March 23, 2011
YOU CAN MAKE UP ALL THE BS EXCUSES YOU WANT THE BOTTOM LINE IS CORPORATE GREED.

JimBo from Victoria
2:45 PM on March 23, 2011
The president of Nestle knows exactly what the protests are about. And it ain’t about helping with the wine harvest at the end of the school year in Switzerland. This is a smokescreen to whitewash Nestle’s dependence on child labour as a cheap yet unethical source of labour. Sickening.

Vickky Angstrom
2:43 PM on March 23, 2011
One of the stupidest excuses you will hear is, “well, at least they have jobs.”

Yeah, but their parents don’t.

The kids are not working because there is a labour shortage. They are working because Nestles won’t hire adults.

overthehill
1:38 PM on March 23, 2011
Sum up for the average person;

Child free labour is almost impossible without compromising our company profits.
We are just NOT going to implement that!

Besides, most of our customers do not care who IS employed anyway,
they would still buy under whatever conditions the workers might endure.

Samuel Lount
3:31 PM on March 23, 2011
You can go back to the 1800’s in England, and find the same arguements as to why we should send kids down into the coal mines.

The President of Nestle is a scum bag, trying to compare the work done by kids on our farms and in Switzerland to what goes on in a Coacoa Plantation. What he’d like to keep drawing attention away from is that many of these kids are forced to work, and are not paid. And, there’s little Nestle or Cadbury can do to garantee their product is not a product of slave labour– be they against it or for it.

I continued buying chocolate because I believed the P.R. smokescreen that things had improved for not just kids but workers in the highly exploitive industry. Discovering that it was all b*llshi* P.R. means I haven’t purchased chocolate and I doubt I will again.

Not that my money makes a difference.

It’s a personal decision not to be a link in slavery.

David388
3:24 PM on March 23, 2011
If companies like Nestle insisted only on fair trade cocoa, the farmers would have a reasonable income and standard of living. Then they wouldn’t have to ask their kids to help. Charitable donations from Nestle to local education is just more Nestle window-dressing, which has been their approach to social issues for decades on end.

Toxic Chemicals in Coffee…Say WHAT?

I drank Cherry Coke for years because I wanted caffeine and didn’t like either coffee or tea.  I stopped when I found out it really WAS melting my bones.  I’d always known it was bad for me but I was actually more concerned with the empty calories, the high sugar content and Diabetes. I kinda thought that Coke’s ability to “melt” objects was just an urban legend…I didn’t really believe if I put a spoon in Coke it would be gone the next morning, ya know?

But then I found out the bone melting thing was indeed true and, as I had just turned 50, the whole aging thing was starting to become something I figured I should probably pay attention to.  But my final straw was when my car wouldn’t start and I grabbed a bottle of Coke and poured it onto the battery acid.  And the acid melted and my car started right up.  Well, that and the headaches I’d started getting.  Turns out they’d started putting Aspertame in all Coke products (it went from real sugar to high fructose corn syrup to Aspertame) and whereas there is a lot of controversy about that particular sweetener, for me I just know it gives me headaches.

So I never drank coffee until I was 50 years old.  Mostly because I thought it tasted horrible…and I had my Cherry Coke.  For me, there wasn’t enough sugar in the world to mask the taste of coffee.  I used to tell people I loved the smell but it “tastes like liquid penicillin.”

Then there were the headaches I got the few times someone managed to get me to try some coffee drink with all kinds of things added to it…chocolate, whipped cream, whatever.  These headaches were nearly blinding to me…I’d wake up with one the next morning and just groan…the headaches were FAR worse than the Cherry Coke headaches and even more intense than the worst alcohol hangover I’d ever had!

Now I’m thinking these past experiences are due to 2 reasons:  1) stale coffee tastes bitter (it goes stale REALLY fast and most of what we buy in the stores is already stale); and 2) the toxic chemicals probably caused more bad taste PLUS world class headaches.

So I find out about the toxic chemicals in coffee. The idea REALLY freaked me out but the knowledge was even worse when I learned about the effects on the coffee farmers (and their families and communities.)  Since coffee is still hand picked…can’t be mass harvested…the farmers and workers are handling these nasty chemicals and the chemicals are in their communities.  One line in the article (where I got the list below from) said this :  “While the roasting process dilutes or eliminates the harmful effects of these chemicals for consumers, coffee workers and their families are still at high risk.”  

Sorry but you can’t convince me this crap somehow magically disappears once it’s processed…and the author did not give me any source for that statements.  In my experience, chemicals are “to the bone” so to speak.  In the soil, in the plant, in generations of the plants, in the water supply, stored in our brains, muscles, bones, etc.  I am NOT a fan of toxic chemicals and I sure don’t want to drink them, eat them or smear them on my skin!!!

It’s not only bad that farmers are getting paid slave wages for coffee (the 2nd most highly traded commodity on the planet; oil is the first) but to find out they’re being poisoned to do it?  No can do, period.  (Luckily I found an excellent alternative with Our Mission Organic Fair Trade Coffee…better taste, living wages and NO CHEMICALS!!)

Here are a few of the lovely chemicals in coffee:

Methyl Parathion

This is the most toxic pesticide of all. It is banned in many countries and is highly toxic to humans, birds, fish, and mammals. It’s used to fight leaf miner infestations. Leaf miners are insects that eat at leaves of plants.  Despite how dangerous it is, it’s still (mis)used in some countries.

Endosulfan

This pesticide is used against coffee cherry borer, a common coffee consuming bug. It’s doesn’t dissolve easily and takes ages to break down in soil and is toxic to most animals. It affects the central nervous system, reproductive organs, kidneys, and liver, and is considered to be worse than the pest itself; it’s even been responsible for human death!

Chlorpyrifos

This is also used against common coffee pests and has been banned in the US for household use because it has caused human death and birth defects. Needless to say, it’s quite detrimental to delicate ecosystems.

Triadimefon

Copper-based fungicide used to against coffee rust. Only slightly toxic to birds, little is known about its effect on humans, but it is suspected that there is potential for reproductive problems with chronic exposure.  It has been found to induce hyperactivity in rats. The major concern is that long-term use of this and other copper-based fungicides is copper accumulation in soils, such as that found in coffee farms in Kenya and in Costa Rica.  Copper toxicity has been found in other crops grown in these soils, and copper impacts other biochemical and biological processes in soil, and little is known about long-term effects in tropical ecosystems. The primary metabolite of triadimefon is triadimenol, which is Class III (slightly hazardous).