Monthly Archives: February 2008

Ecuador Delivers Fair Trade Roses for Valentine’s Day

- HappyNews.com

Just miles from the equator, rose farms have become a colorful focal point of Ecuador’s Andean countryside. With an elevation nearing 10,000 feet, the country’s proximity to the sun and cool nights provide perfect growing conditions for long, straight roses. Ecuador’s cut-flower industry supplies roughly one-third of America’s roses, but the industry is notorious for dangerous pesticides, poor labor practices and corrupt management.

Over the past 10 years, the fair trade model has transformed the coffee industry across much of Latin America. And while fair-trade-certified flowers have been available in Europe for more than a decade, consumer demand in the United States has not pushed flower growers to comply with fair labor practices or to produce a sustainable rose. But Michael Conroy, board chairman of TransFair USA, a fair-trade-certifying agency for the U.S., believes this is about to change. (more…)

Northampton Works Toward ‘Fair Trade Town’ Status

- The Smith College Sophian

Over the past several years, terms like “organic” and “fair trade” have come to append myriad definitions in consumer culture. Throughout Europe, and increasingly throughout the United States, a movement has spread to stipulate not only the requirements of fair trade products but also to distinguish areas dedicated to the furthering of fair trade practices in their businesses. After the recent success of Amherst being declared the third “Fair Trade Town” in the United States, Northampton hopes to soon become the fifth town nationally to join the push. (more…)

Fair Trade Organization Receives eBay Grant for New Web Portal

- www.newswiretoday.com

SERRV International, a national fair trade organization headquartered in Madison, Wis., has been awarded a $53,500 grant from the eBay Foundation for a new website aimed at providing resources to low-income artisans and farmers in more than 30 countries around the world. (more…)

Fair trade branded ‘unfair’

- The Guardian, UK

The burgeoning fair trade movement which allows consumers to buy ethically sourced products such as tea, coffee and bananas is little more than “marketing hype” which benefits a minority of farmers in developing countries at the expense of all the others, a leading thinktank claims today.

At the start of the annual Fairtrade Fortnight, a highly critical report by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) warns that it is little more than a marketing exercise intended to maintain fair trade’s predominance in an increasingly competitive marketplace. It says fair trade is “unfair” because if offers only a very small number of farmers a higher, fixed priced for their goods. These higher prices come at the expense of the great majority of farmers, it says, who – unable to qualify for Fairtrade certification – are left even worse off.
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Fairtrade Profits Rise, but is the Small Farmer Missing Out?

- CommonDreams.org

Once, people laughed at the notion that fair trade could infiltrate the profit-hungry world of retail. Yet new figures from the Fairtrade Foundation will reveal tomorrow that UK consumers take the issue very seriously, spending half a billion pounds on Fairtrade-branded products last year.

However, the rush to fair trade is prompting questions about how “fair” it really is to small farmers in developing nations. The rate of sales growth rocketed during 2007, up 80 per cent on the previous year as companies from Sainsbury’s to Virgin Atlantic stepped up their commitment to fairly traded goods. The total value of Fairtrade sales hit £490m, up from £273m in 2006. (more…)

Blood and Chocolate

- The Grist

While I was waxing euphoric last week about Fair Trade and ultra-fancy chocolate ahead of Valentine’s Day, interesting things were happening in the chocolate world.

Regulators in Germany raided the offices of seven corporate chocolate makers — including Nestle, Kraft, and Mars — investigating allegations of price fixing. Six food conglomerates process half of the world’s cocoa, giving them tremendous leverage on price. Usually, they use their market power to squeeze farmers in the global south; evidently, they may now be using it to squeeze consumers in the global north. Canadian and even U.S. antitrust regulators have launched similar investigations, Bloomberg reports in the above-linked piece.
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A ‘Fair Trade’ Approach to Licensed College Gear

- The New York Times

One day seven or eight years ago in Bangkok, Joe Falcone began to feel an uncomfortable sensation of futility. The grandson of garment workers, he had been working in Asia’s clothing factories for nearly a decade, making certain they complied with labor and environmental laws. The idea was to assure American consumers their apparel and shoes were not made in sweatshops.

But, as Mr. Falcone recalled in a recent interview, he had come to wonder if the laws were strong enough. (more…)

A Better World Blooming: Fair Trade Certified(TM) Flowers Now Available in U.S.

- www.prnewswire.com

TransFair USA, the only independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, is now offering Fair Trade Certified(TM) flowers to the U.S. market. The flowers are available to consumers in time for Valentine’s Day.

While many people believe cut roses and flowers are grown locally, most commercially available flowers are grown in the developing world. Adding a Fair Trade Certified label to these flowers guarantees that flower workers in developing countries, the majority of whom are women, receive fair wages; protective gear; training on safe handling of agrochemicals; education and child care; and paid vacation, maternity and sick leave. Growers also receive a premium of approximately 10 percent on each sale to invest in community and business development projects. (more…)

A Greener, Sweeter Valentine’s Day

- The Huffington Post

Is Valentine’s Day a beautiful celebration of love, commitment and denial?

Dating back hundreds of years, the origins of Valentine’s Day–and its patron saint–have long been shrouded in mystery. Though little is known about St. Valentine or Valentinus, one thing is certain: Valentine’s Day is not so sweet. (more…)

UW students still working toward fair trade

- The Daily of University of Washington

The third floor of Parrington Hall was transformed Saturday into a forum where speakers, scholars, activists, corporate representatives and community members sat down to discuss the challenges in implementing fair trade. The two-day conference was sponsored by the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs and more than 20 speakers and six sessions on a variety of topics.

Freshman Lauren Currin attended the forum “After the WTO: Fair Trade Organizing in the Pacific Northwest” to hear speakers discuss local grassroots movements. She became interested in fair trade practices after taking an introduction to globalization course. (more…)