Mars Chocolate child labor controversy explained as petition against company crosses 20,000 signatures
Mars Chocolates, the famous chocolate company, known for treats like M&Ms and Snickers, is under scrutiny for alleged child labor practices in Ghana. According to a CBS News report, based on information from an anonymous whistleblower, children as young as five years old harvested cocoa beans for the company.
The report also stated that CBS News' investigative team traveled to Ghana where they reportedly were met with distressing scenes. The team reportedly saw young children wielding machetes almost as large as themselves to collect cocoa beans. The report also said they saw a child nearly lose their fingers while handling the machete, highlighting the perilous conditions the children face in the cocoa fields.
The controversy has ignited public outrage, leading to a petition on change.org that has garnered over 25,000 signatures for a target of 35,000. The petition highlights the exploitation of children in cocoa factories. It emphasizes that companies like Mars Chocolate, Nestlé, and Hershey have failed to honor their decade-old promise to end the use of child labor in cocoa harvesting.
The petition sheds light on the alarming conditions faced by the children, including exposure to harmful chemicals and handling sharp tools without proper protection. Additionally, child labor takes away the children's right to education, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and illiteracy.
The petition urges consumers to boycott chocolate from Mars, Nestlé, and Hershey, to send a powerful message against child exploitation.
Human rights lawyers filed a lawsuit against several American food companies including Mars Chocolate
After CBS News' report was released, a US-based human rights lawyer filed a proposed class action lawsuit against several American food companies, including Mars Chocolate. The lawsuit has alleged consumer fraud.
Mars responded by condemning child labor and asserting its commitment to eradicating it from its supply chain. However, the company claimed that CBS did not provide specific details of the investigation.
One of the young workers also reportedly shared her story with CBS News. The young girl, 15-year-old Munira, told the publication that had been toiling in the cocoa fields since the age of five. Munira expressed her desire to become a medical doctor, but economic constraints forced her into labor instead of school.
Field supervisors, contracted by Mars Chocolate, admitted to fabricating lists meant to keep children away from cocoa plantations and enrolled in schools. This was a violation of Mars' commitment to ending child labor.
Cocoa production in West Africa identified as a hotspot for child labor
Cocoa production in West Africa, where approximately 70% of the world's cocoa is sourced, is identified as a hotspot for child labor. According to the International Labor Organization, there are approximately 152 million child laborers globally, many of whom endure hazardous conditions on cocoa farms.
The petition was initiated by The New 3Rs Youth Responsive Philanthropists. It calls for support in ending capitalist exploitation, particularly targeting Black and Brown youth who are more vulnerable to such practices. It also emphasizes the need for stricter regulations and enforcement within the industry to ensure corporations are held accountable for their actions.
In response to the mounting pressure, Mars Chocolate reiterated its commitment to eradicating child labor from its supply chain and pledged to investigate the allegations thoroughly.