The darker side of chocolate

Whether or not our waistbands agree with it, we all enjoy a bit of chocolate every now and then. However, we probably often forget how it is made and how it reaches us.

The truth is that even your white chocolate may have a dark side to it. With most chocolate produced in developing nations such as Ghana, Indonesia and the Ivory Coast, poverty and child labour are unfortunately issues which continue to haunt the industry.

As a recent CNN documentary showed, the use of trafficked child labour in cocoa production is widespread and too little is being done to clamp down on it. And that is why Labour MEPs have voted this week to approve the 2010 International Cocoa Agreement, which seeks to improve the Cocoa Industry. This agreement encourages the improvement of working conditions and the development of sustainable industry in return for fair prices.

This is obviously a substantial step in the right direction, however, one which I feel doesn’t go far enough. As previous agreements have shown, cocoa companies are not prepared to voluntarily minimise their massive profits by cracking down on child labour. We need to go further to ensure that children in the developing world are provided with the education they require and are not sold into slavery, simply so that chocolate can be produced at cut cost prices.

I am pleased then that the Socialists & Democrats Group, which Labour MEPs belong to, has called for a separate resolution to deal with the problem of child labour in cocoa fields. This is a much needed discussion, which I fully support and hope will ultimately help to bring an end to the darker side of chocolate.

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