Supreme Court Decision in Nestlé Child Labor Case Underlines Need for Meaningful Human Rights Legislation
After months of deliberation, the Supreme Court has released a disappointing decision in the case of six survivors who sued Nestlé USA and Cargill over trafficking and child labor in their chocolate supply chains. By an 8:1 majority, the Court held that the suit against Nestlé and Cargill under the Alien Tort Statute could not go forward as the abuses in question occurred overseas. While the decision is a grave disappointment for all of us who advocate for human rights and corporate accountability, it is not the sweeping dismissal that the corporations’ lawyers argued for. Nor is it a ruling that in any way denies that hazardous child labor is present throughout Nestlé and Cargill’s supply chains – as well as those of the major chocolate companies. Instead, the decision highlights the urgent need for the U.S. to align itself and its laws with the growing international movement to hold corporations accountable through mandatory human rights due diligence laws.
We strongly oppose the launch of Fair Trade USA and Chobani’s new “Fair Trade Dairy” program. This new label is being launched in direct contradiction to the demands of the very people it is supposed to be benefiting – farmworkers. Further, there is now “certified” product on grocery store shelves, but a final standard still has not been issued to define just what the label claims to certify as true. Without transparency, community-led solutions, or mechanisms for meaningful enforcement of workers’ rights, this program’s claims are no more substantial than a sticker on a package.
After months of tireless campaigning by activists from around the world, yesterday the Biden administration announced that they will back the TRIPS waiver, suspending patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines.
This decision is a huge step towards getting vaccines to everyone around the globe who wants one – and finally ending this pandemic. If the Biden administration and negotiators hold to the spirit of this commitment, this decision has the potential to save millions of lives, and stave off dreaded mutations of the virus that continues to spread around the world.
Fair World Project and 50+ Organizations Issue Statement in Solidarity in Support of India’s Farmers and Farmworkers
Tens of thousands of small farmers and farmworkers in India are leading the largest protest in history to fight for economic, social, and food justice.
Fair World Project joins in solidarity with them, and condemns the government-sanctioned violence and human rights violations being carried out by the government as a means to suppress dissent and independent journalism.
35+ farmworker, farming, and food justice organizations urge Fair Trade USA to dissolve their comment process and halt the pilot of their draft dairy certification. The letter cites a lack of mechanisms for monitoring and enforcement as well as Fair Trade USA’s history of undermining worker organizing. The standard also fails to address major issues facing the dairy industry.
Fair World Project calls on Fair Trade USA to halt their Fair Trade Dairy pilot and revisit their commitment to partnering in Chobani’s Milk Matters program. Fair World Project supports the statement of the Workers’ Center of Central New York and Workers’ Justice Center of Central New York calling on Chobani to respect their right to organize.
Fair World Project strongly urges Fair Trade USA not to recertify Fyffes’ Suragroh plantation, or any other new Fyffes’ subsidiaries, until the independent union STAS has formally signaled to Fair Trade USA that a CBA has been signed according to the terms they outline and that the company has paid back wages it owed as determined by the Honduran government.
Open Letter from International Civil Society to Fair Trade USA re: Fyffes’ Honduran melon plantations
Organizations sign letter calling on Fair Trade USA to decertify Suragroh melon plantation in Honduras, a fully owned subsidiary of multinational fruit company, Fyffes, due to longstanding labor & human rights violations.
ISEAL Alliance is a membership organization with a mission to strengthen sustainability standards. When Fair Trade USA applied for membership, FWP submitted this letter to ISEAL highlighting areas where FTUSA may need additional support in meeting ISEAL’s principles and codes.
Fair World Project submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative office on the objectives on the NAFTA renegotiation during open comment period.
Fair World Project joined leaders of the fair trade movement to call for trade that is truly equitable for all, including artisans, farmers and workers, traders and brands, consumers and civil society. The statement was initiated in response to the renegotiation of NAFTA, but we encourage the inclusion of true fair trade principles any time the U.S. considers renegotiating or entering into new international trade agreements. Fair trade will never be about exclusion, but always about expanding the benefits of trade for those who need it most.
In fall 2016 Cadbury announced it would discontinue use of the fair trade seal on chocolate bars. Cadbury was never a fair trade company and should not have been presented as one, yet rather than simply drop a misleading claim, Cadbury will replace it with claims based on a corporate-led community development program endorsed by Fairtrade International. FWP offered this analysis.
Fair World Project reported positive progress in talks between Sakuma Brothers Farm (Sakuma) and Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) in August 2016 after a summer of initial conversations. FUJ, an independent farmworker union, had been asking to negotiate a contract with management on behalf of farmworkers since 2013.
More than thirty organizations sent a letter to Driscoll’s asking the berry company to make good on its commitment to freedom of association and right to collective bargaining at Sakuma Brothers Farm and beyond.
On May 26, 2016 Fair World Project mailed a petition signed by nearly 10,000 consumers to Sakuma Brothers Farm asking management to sit down and negotiate a fair contract with farmworkers there.
Fair World Project, supported by ten other organizations, submitted this letter to Fair Trade USA asking that they label domestic produce from large-scale farms distinctly and that they increase and formalize their partnerships with democratic farmworker organizations. If they did these things, Fair Trade USA would not only strengthen their own program, they would do so without undermining other farmworker-led domestic farmworker programs or small-scale farmer programs in the Global South.
The Los Angeles Unified School District was the first school district to implement the Good Food Purchasing Policy, which has requirements for fair, humane, and environmentally sustainable food. However, Tyson, despite a supply chain that is the opposite of these values, was considered for a large contract with the district because of their ability to provide some chicken products that other companies could not. FWP sent this letter to the school district board urging them to reject the contract with Tyson and uphold their values, even if it meant needing to adjust menus.
After nearly 10,000 consumers wrote to the International Cocoa (ICI) Institute asking them to include pricing as part of their cocoa strategy, ICI responded with this letter acknowledging that farmer income is one of several important factors in ending child slavery in the sector, but falling short of committing to address pricing directly.
Eight organizations submitted a letter to Fair Trade USA to clarify the stakeholder engagement process and expectations for their new domestic farmworker standards.
FWP director Dana Geffner submitted this letter to the San Francisco Chronicle in response to the inaccurate information contained in the Guide to Fair Trade Labels published on September 8, 2015.
FWP sent a letter to Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz after nearly 5,000 consumers got unsatisfactory responses to letters about Starbucks’ position on free trade policies.
On March 24, 2015, Fair World Project sent a letter to Driscoll’s, signed by nearly 10,000 consumers, expressing concern for farmworkers at Sakuma Brothers farm in Washington, a growing partner of Driscoll’s. Driscoll’s responded by inviting a dialogue on this issue. Fair World Project accepted this offer for a conversation, and reached out to representatives of the Familias Unidas por la Justicia union and representatives from allied organizations. This is an update from this meeting.
FWP wrote a letter to Yes! Magazine in response to their analysis of Fair Trade vs. direct trade.
Farmworkers at Sakuma Brothers Farms have called for a boycott of the farm’s products due to concerns over pay, housing, and working conditions. Driscoll’s is one of Sakuma’s largest buyers and FWP sent a letter to Driscoll’s, signed by nearly 10,000 consumers, asking them to ensure a fair contract for farmworkers or suspend purchases for the farm.
FWP Letters to Nestle Re: Switch From Artificial Vanilla
In February 2015, Nestle announced they would remove artificial colors and flavors from their most popular candy bars. Fair World Project is calling them to take the next step and commit to not use synbio vanilla, a vanilla flavoring that uses genetically engineered yeast to produce, and to work with fair trade farmers to increase the impact of their decision. After an initial response from Nestle Customer Service indicating it had no intention to use synbio vanilla but no response on fair trade, FWP sent a follow up asking for a more formal statement expressing Nestle’s commitment to avoid synbio as well as a response on working with farmers on fair trade terms.
Fair World Project responded to the press releases issued by Castle Rock Water Company regarding their achievement of For Life social certification. In both their original and updated press release, FWP felt Castle Rock implied their water was certified as fair trade when in reality the company has been certified as socially responsible. FWP believes strongly that water should not be certified fair trade and any publicity by this company should make it clear that it is not.
FWP sent a letter to Fair for Life regarding a press release issued by Castle Rock brand bottled water announcing their Fair for Life Certification. FWP believes that water is a right not a certifiable commodity. If Castle Rock was certified under For Life for its social responsibility as a company, FWP believes that should be clear and steps should be taken to avoid the impression that the water itself is certified fair trade, as implied in the press release.
On August 7, 2014 FWP submitted comments to the EPA commended some aspects of the proposed Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, but asking them to strengthen several aspects. The statement included comments from 199 consumers supporting our stated concerns.
On June 16, Fair World Project sent letters to Fair Trade USA (FTUSA), Fairtrade International (FLO), Fair for Life, and Rainforest Alliance asking them to state and improve their positions on genetic engineering and especially synthetic biology (synbio). Synbio is a technology that allows chemical companies to create ingredients in vats via synthetic DNA inserted into microbes that are fed sugar or corn syrup. Because the stated intention of leading synbio manufacturers is to label and market synbio ingredients as “natural,” they will undercut and compete unfairly with high-value crops that provide sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers. We believe eco-social and fair trade certifiers should direct brands to purchase non-GMO and non-synbio ingredients and that the inclusion of any such ingredients in a composite product should ideally be prohibited or at a minimum clearly labeled to avoid confusion.
Fair World Project’s Statement in Response to the “Fair Trade Employment and Poverty Reduction in Uganda and Ethiopia” Report
The Fair Trade, Employment and Poverty Reduction Project (FTEPR) released its final report on its four-year research into agricultural labor in Ethiopia and Uganda in April 2014. This report focused on complex and important issues, and highlighted the prevalence of wage laborers even on small-scale fair trade farms. However, though this report contributes to our understanding of fair trade’s strengths and weaknesses, it does not prove that the fair trade model—conceived as a way to enhance opportunities and market access for small-scale farmers—is not working or should be abandoned.
In 2013, Fairtrade International released a proposal called the Fairtrade Sourcing Partnership that would allow a fair trade label (similar to the current fair trade mark used by Fairtrade International and its labeling parters such as Fairtrade America) if 100% of either sugar or cocoa are certified, even if other ingredients are not. Fair World Project responded stating some concerns.
Fair World Project issued this statement in response to Fair Trade USA’s Apparel Program pointing our several weaknesses in this program.