(NaturalNews) Fed up with Hershey's continued import of cocoa harvested by children, a group of more than 45,000 consumers, has banded together to call on the company to stop the practice, and to urge consumers to boycott its chocolate this Halloween. Dubbed Hershey: Raise the Bar!, the initiative is calling on Hershey's to live up to its promise to end child labor, forced labor, and trafficking in its cocoa supply chains, which it has failed to do so far.
According to the petition, which can be found at Change.org (http://www.change.org/petitions/hershey-rais...), several major chocolate companies, including Hershey's, committed roughly a decade ago to stop using cocoa grown and harvested with child labor. Since that time, many of the other chocolate companies have made at least some progress in ridding their supply chains of child labor chocolate, but Hershey's has not.
Raise the Bar! alleges that Hershey's continues to buy cocoa from suppliers that use child labor, and has taken no significant steps to identify the offenders and root them out. As a result, hundreds of thousands of children in West African countries like the Ivory Coast and Ghana still harvest cocoa that ends up in Hershey's chocolate bars.
"Unlike other companies, Hershey has not committed to sourcing cocoa for its main product line that has been independently certified to comply with international labor rights standards," says the petition. It adds that now is the time to "[t]ell Hershey to raise the bar and be a leader in sustainable chocolate and shift toward Fairtrade Certified cocoa."
In an effort to help move things along, the group is also calling for a massive boycott of Hershey's products this Halloween. Since the company's candies represent more than 42 percent of the overall US chocolate market, a widespread boycott could have a significant impact on Hershey's where it really matters -- on the bottom line.
Beyond just the child labor issues, Hershey's products also contain genetically-modified (GM) ingredients like sugar derived from GM sugar beets, and soy lecithin derived from Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans. Hershey's committed to removing these toxins from chocolate produced for the European market, but it continues to use them in chocolate made for the North American market (http://www.naturalnews.com/030826_Hersheys_G...).