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Running head: FAIR TRADE

Fair Trade: Truth Behind the Product


March 12th, 2015
Sydney L Brooks
Dowagiac Union High School

Fair Trade: Truth Behind the Product


Over time, as companies became the power and money hungry institutions that they are
today, groups of people are exploited. More and more companies that originated in the United

FAIR TRADE

States of America are moving their factories and production lines overseas. They do so for many
reasons, the biggest one being that they can easily find people in need of work and pay them next
to nothing. Because of this, the companys profits are greatly increased. The workers in those
factories are paid very low wages to work long hours in dangerous environments. This practice
became very popular and fair trade laws became necessary as people began to protest the
companies. Fair trade companies are certified and promise to produce fair, or conflict free,
products. I will discuss the fair trade agreements or lack thereof of six different companies and
products. Besides researching the illegal trafficking of blood diamonds in the movie Blood
Diamond, I will present to cases of Nestle, the company Ben and Jerrys, Death Wish coffee,
Abercrombie and Fitch, Heparin, a blood thinner used in Aspirin, and Fairhills wine.
The movie Blood Diamond is a story partially about Sierra Leone in the 1990s. During
this time, smugglers brought conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone to Liberia where they could be
legally sold to rich countries such as the United States and Switzerland. The diamonds were
mixed together so it was nearly impossible to tell the conflict diamonds from the conflict free.
The diamonds coming from Sierra Leone were mined by slaves of the rebel armies. These slaves
had been taken from their families, who were either killed, raped, or de-limbed, and forced to
mine diamonds in harsh conditions for long periods of time. The slave workers and child soldiers
meant nothing to the rebel armies, they were only bodies to carry out the necessary work to fund
the civil war in Angola. Profits from the trade in conflict diamonds, worth billions of dollars,
were used by warlords and rebels to buy arms during the devastating wars in Angola, the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone. Wars that have cost an estimated 3.7
million lives. (Hondros). The purchasing of any diamonds with the chance that they could be
from conflict zones was a problem in the 1990s.

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Over the years, a chocolate, coffee, and powdered milk producing company, Nestle has
repeatedly defiled the basic rules of fair trade and has not signed a fair trade agreement. Fourteen
years ago, it was discovered that Nestle had been buying their cacao beans from Ghana and the
Ivory Coast where the beans are harvested by children who have been taken from their homes
and forced to work as slaves for no pay. When asked about the fairness of their chocolate, the
company was not able to tell the public that the cacao beans did not come from the child slave
camps (Corporate Watch : Nestl SA).
In todays modern world, the demand for coffee and coffee beans is enormous. Because
of this, coffee beans are often bought from conflict areas where workers are not paid fairly.
Nestle does not believe that there should be laws to ensure that all coffee produced is fair trade.
They said, ...do not believe that the fair-trade approach is a solution for the present coffee crisis
because it would 'encourage those farmers to increase coffee production, further distorting the
imbalance between supply and demand and, therefore, depressing prices for green coffee'. Nestl
claim that their purchase of 14% of beans directly from farmers 'enables the farmer to retain a
greater portion of the price paid by Nestl, therefore improving his income' (Corporate Watch :
Nestl SA). The statements of the Nestle representatives are faulty because coffee farmers say
that, This is not necessarily the case... With prices so low at the moment, many coffee farmers
have responded by increasing production to compensate for lost income. If farmers received a
fair price for their coffee they would be more likely to reduce production than increase it.
(Corporate Watch : Nestl SA).
The year after the public found out about Nestles chocolate, it was discovered that the
company had bought about two hundred tons or four hundred thousand pounds of powdered milk
that had the brand name of Conaprole from a different company. When they lied to the public

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and relabeled the milk as Nestle, they made themselves into a fraudulent company. As they
relabled the units to look like they were made by Nestle, the company set the production dates
back over a year than what they really were. Over time, the company of Nestle has improved, but
is still not honorable (Corporate Watch : Nestl SA).
The company of Ben and Jerrys, however, has maintained their fair trade agreement for
the past ten years since they signed it. The ice cream company obtains all of their coffee, cocoa,
and vanilla beans from fair trade sources. Their coffee is bought from Mexico, the vanilla from
Uganda, and chocolate from fair trade sources in the Ivory Coast and Ghana. The co-founder of
Ben and Jerrys stated, Fairtrade is about making sure people get their fair share of the pie.
The whole concept of fair trade goes to the heart of our values and the sense of right and wrong.
Nobody wants to buy something that was made by exploiting somebody else. (Reed). This
company is one of the more honorable.
Death Wish coffee is another company that only uses fair trade product. Their company
has become very successful in the recent years, but they still keep their fair trade agreements.
They have been entirely fair trade since the company was started. Death Wish coffee beans are
specially grown and roasted to be the most caffeinated coffee beans on the planet. Because of the
intense amount of care that is needed to produce Death Wish coffee beans need to be grown and
harvested in a specific area and by certain people and their families of farmers. The company of
Death Wish Coffee stated on their website that, Our green beans are solely organic certified, and
most importantly, all Fair Trade. Sustainability is very important to us as we understand that the
dedication and hard work of our coffee growers and their families make our coffee what it is. The
efforts of these farmers and their careful selection of each and every individual bean live on
through every batch of Death Wish Coffee that we roast. (World's Strongest Coffee).

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Abercrombie and Fitch is a very popular clothing brand that is not a fair trade company.
About a year ago, they signed an agreement to better some of the working conditions of their
factories in Bangladesh. They only agreed to sign the agreement after one of their factories
collapsed and killed over one thousand one hundred workers (Greenhouse). While Abercrombie
stated that they were improving working conditions, the workers are still not paid living wages
and the shifts are tiresome and horrifying in the Bangladeshi factories. Just remember that when
a customer is shopping at Abercrombie and Fitch, walking calmly through the shop and browsing
the jeans that cost well over one hundred dollars per pair, the factory workers that made those
jeans are suffering and making about fifty dollars a month to support themselves and their
families. That is a dollar and sixty seven cents a day, to make how ever many garments that the
worker can for the company of Abercrombie and Fitch to get rich off of (Miller). Suppose that a
single seamstress makes twenty pairs of jeans in one day. That lone seamstress is bringing in two
thousand dollars in for the company daily just making those pair of jeans while she is making
about sixteen cents per hour, assuming her workday is ten hours long. Keep that in mind.
Heparin is a drug that is used as a blood thinner in Aspirin and is made from the mucous
membranes of pig intestines. Being such a common pain reliever, Aspirin is sold everywhere and
for a very cheap price. China is the worlds largest producer of Heparin and the drug is not
usually fair trade. About seven years ago, Heparin from a dozen factories in China was found to
be contaminated. The contamination occurred when the companies allowed the intestines to be
boiled in unregulated family workshops (Wassener). A chemical passed through the tests of the
Chinese factories and the contaminated Heparin went out onto the market. In that year, a death
toll of one hundred and forty nine people resulted from allergic reaction to the chemical. The
Chinese factories have not signed fair trade agreements to make their factories safer with stricter

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rules and better pay of followed the FDA standards of Heparin production. Heparin is a drug that
makes a select few rich, while the workers are paid little to nothing (Wassener).
The wine business has had a long record of hardship and slave labor. Because of this, the
wine producing company called Origin decided to make an all fair trade wine called Fairhills.
The wine is farmed and produced in Rawsonville, South Africa by farmers and their families that
are paid fairly and are provided housing. Workers and their children are given the opportunity for
education, as there has been a school built in Rawsonville. While the workers do their jobs,
daycare service is provided for their children that is also educational. The money that is made
goes back into the program to further improve the lives of people in the area. Origin has done a
great job in giving back to the community in Rawsonville (Fairhills).
Overall, I have found that companies that are fully fair trade are few and far between. As
a society and as a country, we need to improve this fact. To improve the working and living
conditions of factory workers and farmers in third world countries around the world, we as
consumers, should demand that every product we buy was produced in a fair trade facility. If
everyone did this, spent a little bit more for a product that is guaranteed fair trade, then over time
while prices of products would rise, all companies would be forced to pay their workers fairly.
When those workers are paid fairly, they will be able to better the living conditions of those
around them. Once their basic needs are met, communities will be able to develop and whole
countries will be saved from starvation.

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Works Cited
Blood diamond [Motion picture on DVD]. (2007). Distributed by Warner Home Video.
Corporate Watch : Nestl SA : Corporate Crimes. (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2015, from
http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/content/corporate-watch-nestl-sa-corporate-crimes
Fairhills. (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2015, from http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/buyingfairtrade/wine/fairhills
Greenhouse, S. (2013, May 15). Abercrombie & Fitch Signs Bangladesh Safety Plan.
Retrieved March 10, 2015, from
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/business/global/abercrombie-fitch-agrees-tobangladesh-factory-safety-plan.html?_r=0
Hondros, C. (n.d.). Conflict Diamonds. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from
http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/business-and-human-rights/oil-gas-andmining-industries/conflict-diamonds

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Islam, S. (2013, June 20). Abercrombie & Fitch signed a safety agreement, but that
doesnt mean Bangladeshi workers will be safe. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from
http://qz.com/86422/abercrombie-fitch-signed-a-safety-agreement-but-that-doesnt-meanbangladeshi-workers-will-be-safe/
Miller, J. (2013, October 1). After Horror, Apologetics. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from
http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2013/0913miller.html
Reed, G. (2012, April 22). Ben & Jerrys Fair Trade Commitment. Retrieved March 10, 2015,
from http://sites.davidson.edu/anthro/global/2012/04/22/ben-jerrys-fair-tradecommitment/
Wassener, B. (2010, May 6). In China, Strong Debut for Supplier of Heparin. Retrieved
February 26, 2015, from
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/07/business/global/07drug.html?_r=0
World's Strongest Coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2015, from
http://www.deathwishcoffee.com/pages/roasting-process