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There Is Nothing Magical About Child Labour

There Is Nothing Magical About Child Labour

As Tim Burton releases his new film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in NZ on September 8, US chocolate makers miss a deadline for putting an end to child labour on cocoa farms in Western Africa.

Ironically in complete contrast to the happy chocolately image that the Tim Burton film portrays of the chocolate process, the reality of the process involved with the 1,850 Wonka bars, made by Nestle for use in the film, is not such a happy story.

Nestle purchases a portion of its cocoa from the Ivory Coast, where the US State Department’s year 2000 Human Rights Report acknowledged that some 15,000 children between the ages of 9 and 12 have been sold into forced labour on cotton, coffee and cocoa plantations in recent years. The Ivory Coast is said to provide 43% of America’s cocoa and the export of cocoa amounts to 40% of the Ivory Coast’s total export earnings.

The films release comes at a pivotal moment in the discussion about the real chocolate industry’s response to child slavery on cocoa farms. In the US, July 1st 2005 marked the final deadline for the industry’s voluntary protocol on child slavery. “After four years of foot dragging, the chocolate industry has failed to live up to its commitments under the protocol and once again the possibility of binding legislation by Congress for all chocolate to carry slave labour-free labelling, is on the table” says Andrea Buffa, Global Exchange spokesperson.

The Wonka bars were axed in the UK two years ago following poor sales but with the release of the newest version of Charlie and the Chocolate factory, Nestle’s 5 million pound (NZ$13m) promotional blitz has brought the poor selling chocolate bars into the New Zealand market place.

In addition to the 1,850 real Wonka bars provided, Nestle have been heavily involved in the film’s production, helping to create elements such as the chocolate river in Willy Wonka’s factory.

Its not all bad however - Chocolate can be as sweet as Willy Wonka makes it out to be – but the answer lies in purchasing chocolate which comes with a exploitation free guarantee. Look out for Fairtrade chocolate which carries the FLO label – your guarantee that slave labour was not used in the making of your chocolate.

Fairtrade chocolate can be bought at all Trade Aid shops and from retailers listed at www.tradeaid.org.nz.


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