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Fair Trade and Green Campaigners target STARBUCKS

Fair Trade and Green Campaigners target STARBUCKS

24th June 2001

ORGANIC CONSUMER and FAIR TRADE GREEN ACTIVISTS WILL LEAFLET & PROTEST AT STARBUCKS COFFEE SHOPS IN OVER 200 CITIES ON JUNE 25-26. CONSUMERS DEMAND STARBUCKS REMOVE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED INGREDIENTS FROM THE COMPANY'S BRAND-NAME PRODUCTS, START BREWING AND SERIOUSLY PROMOTING FAIR TRADE COFFEE, AND IMPROVE THE WAGES AND WORKING CONDITIONS OF COFFEE PLANTATION WORKERS

Paul Bruce, representing a coalition of groups including the Green Party, Trade Aid and solidarity groups such as Latin America Committee, said that local protests will take place in Wellington on Tuesday 26th June outside Starbuck outlets noon to 2pm and 5 to 6pm.

Consumer, environmental, and social justice activists in Auckland, Christchurch and Nelson and scores of other cities from other nations such as UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan, are simultaneously leafleting and staging protests in front of Starbucks coffee shops. Protestors will call attention to Starbucks' use of genetically engineered ingredients in their foods and beverages. They will also highlight Starbucks' refusal to stock, brew and promote Fair Trade, shade-grown coffee and improve the wages and working conditions of farm workers on the coffee plantations of its suppliers in Guatemala, Mexico, and other nations.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world. Current market prices are less than 50 cents per pound. This is creating coffee refugees - farmers driven from their land in order to feed their families. Certified fair trade prices are $1.26 per pound - based on a living wage. Starbucks NZ does not buy any fair trade coffee.

Up until now coffee has been GE free, but a US company called International Coffee Technologies is developing a technology to control the ripening process of coffee trees. This will mean coffee cherries will only ripen once "switched on" - triggered by spraying with the chemical ethylene.

Simon Gerathy of Trade Aid (Christchurch) accused Starbucks of being involved in corporate spin, when they paid employees to do community work as a response to perceptions of them being seen as outsiders.

If Starbucks is such a good corporate citizen why haven't they dropped their prices when world coffee prices are the lowest they've been in decades? Why aren't they purchasing certified fair trade coffee, which guarantees farmers a minimum living wage? Their corporate greed continues to put profit before people. Farmers and their families are forced off their land to join unemployment queues in cities. Poverty is perpetuated.

Mr Bruce said that vague promises and half-measures are not enough. Starbucks must either give in to the demands of consumers and public interest groups around the world for a non-genetically engineered product line, Fair Trade coffee, and social justice, or else they run the risk of further damage to their reputation and bottom line.

What can consumers do about it? Purchase certified fair trade coffee, ask your MP or local body candidate where they stand on trade agreements that foster this kind of exploitation, or simply boycott Starbucks until they purchase fair trade coffee.

Paul Bruce, Wellington Green Economy Campaigner Tel 04 972 8699 paul.bruce@paradise.net.nz Simon Gerathy, Sales & Marketing Manager, Trade Aid Tel 03 385 3535 x235 or 025 937 875.

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