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Slaves to Chocolate

You may think that describes YOU, if you find yourself craving that delicious serotonin-raising substance. Most of us are slaves to chocolate, but what it REALLY describes is the child labor used to pick cocoa beans in West Africa.

In the Independent, Humphrey Hawksley describes conditions on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, where?despite a pledge by chocolate companies 5 years ago?indentured children are still the most common form of labor. They are virtual slaves. Hawksley quotes one child as saying, "I used to go to school, but my father has no one to work on the farm, so he took me out of school. My mother's a long way from here. I haven't seen her for 10 years?since I was two years old."

In 2001, the chocolate industry signed the Cocoa Protocol, in which they promised congress they would eliminate child labor by 2005. When they missed their goal, congress gave them until 2008.

Hawksley quotes Democratic congressman Eliot Engel, who drafted the protocol, as saying, "That deadline came and went and we were very unhappy. They now need to live up to that agreement. If they don't, we'll make a decision in 2008. Personally I would be for implementing some sanctions because I think six years is enough."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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