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In West Africa, a Kiss Is Not Just a Kiss

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Reynard Loki     Permalink
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cocoa beans by Green America

In the 1942 film Casablanca, Ingrid Bergman's character Isla requested that Sam the piano player sing "As Time Goes By."
In it is the famous line, "A kiss is just a kiss." While that may or
may not be true about actual kisses, he was definitely not singing about
the Hershey variety.

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"When people think of Hershey,
they usually think of Hershey's iconic chocolates -- the Hershey Bar,
Hershey's Kisses, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups -- and Hersheypark. In the
United States, Hershey conjures up innocent childhood pleasures and
enjoyable snacks. However, halfway across the globe, there is a dark
side to Hershey. In West Africa, where Hershey sources much of its
cocoa, the scene is one of child labor, trafficking, and forced
labor...The farmers in this region, which supplies the majority of the
world's cocoa, live in poverty, while major chocolate corporations continue to amass large profits."

So begins the disturbing tale in "Time to Raise the Bar: The Real Corporate Responsibility for the Hershey Company," a report issued last month -- just in time for Halloween -- by Global Exchange, Green America, International Labor Rights Forum and Oasis USA.

cocoa beans sourced by many of the world's major chocolate companies
are independently certified to meet certain accepted environmental,
social and labor standards. However, according to the report, Hershey's
is "one major exception to this trend" and "has consistently refused to
provide public information about its cocoa sources."

Hershey's CEO received an $8 million compensation package in 2009, many
of the farmers who grow cocoa in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana that ends up
in Hershey products are barely able to cover their costs, and as a
result, use unpaid child labor and even forced labor on their farms."

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Founded in 1894 by Milton S. Hershey, The Hershey Company
is the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America. Hershey once
said, "Chocolate is a permanent thing." Hopefully, the bad policies of
the company he founded won't be.


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Reynard Loki is a New York-based artist, writer and editor. He is the environment and food editor at, a progressive news website. He is also the co-founder of MomenTech, a New York-based experimental production studio whose projects (more...)

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