By Lloyd Alter
Few things that we buy are so loaded with implications as is chocolate. Cacao only grows in a belt 20 kilometers on either side of the equator, in rich, well-drained soils. According to Jo Anne Tacorda in Alternatives Journal, 73% of the world’s cocoa is from Africa, particularly from the top-cocoa-producing countries of Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria. Carol Off wrote in her book Bitter Chocolate that much of this is harvested by child labor; speaking of Ivory Coast, she writes about what has happened in that country since 1993:
The country fell apart, its neighbours in Liberia at civil war, its other neighbour Mali in a drought. Children are kidnapped and sold across the border to harvest the beans, and yet through all of this destruction and death, bags of cocoa beans keep showing up at the port.
Most major manufacturers of chocolate just say they buy their cocoa from the big agricultural conglomerates like Archer Daniels Midlands and Cargill, so they continue to avoid the issue of Blood Chocolate. They are supposed to be doing something; according to In these times,
In 2001, eight members of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, including industry leaders Mars and Nestle, signed the non-binding Harkin-Engel “Cocoa Protocol” that committed the companies to eliminating the “worst of child labor” in West Africa. Participating manufacturers were supposed to have met the international agreement’s standards by 2005, but hundreds of thousands of children…
Read more at TREEHUGGER.COM
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