About Becky

Becky Molloy
Cambridge, NY


I am independent and do not accept income from any manufacturer, retailer, farm, cooperative, union, or certification system.

I am a retired teacher, wife, mother, and grandmother living in Cambridge, NY.  I am an ordinary citizen who felt compelled to learn more about where our food comes from after I became aware of  the prevalence of trafficking of children in the chocolate industry as forced laborers on cocoa bean farms.  

I read an international document, The Harkin Engel Protocol, signed eleven years ago by CEO's from the world's leading chocolate manufacturers in which they acknowledged the existence of forced child labor on cocoa farms. In this document, they agreed to a set of actions to correct abusive child labor and it's root cause, poverty.  Deadlines came and went.  For ten years there was no substantive change according to a Tulane University oversight report and various other international documents.  When I began to look at profits and budgets, I realized that ten years was enough time to make the agreed upon changes.  Children who were not even born when the Protocol was signed, are now among the 200,000 plus child slaves on cocoa farms.  Cocoa growing farmers, families, and communities continue to suffer extreme poverty and its resulting social dysfunction while chocolate corporations benefit from the cheap labor.  It is unacceptable to have yet another generation of children trafficked and forced into labor while chocolate manufacturers are making billions in profits each year.   When farmers are able to pay adult workers the reasons for child labor disappear.  When adult workers make enough to support their children, the reasons to indenture those children disappear.

In order to understand the proposed solutions and the reasons given for failure, I needed to understand the relationships between the global food industry and poverty. I have studied U.S. government documents, UNICEF and ILO reports, agricultural and socio-economic research papers, press releases from manufacturer's and advocacy groups, websites of stakeholders, etc.  I continue to read three to four hours a day on the legacy of colonialism, world hunger, international economics, forced labor, agribusiness, and the fair trade movement.  As I studied the growth in availability of fair trade products and companies in the UK compared to growth in the US, it became clear that many major companies will change only when pressured by consumers.  Several corporations offer fair trade products in the UK, but those same corporations offer none in this country.

What I am learning is 1) sustainable farming/business practices along with fair wages and income provide the foundation for solving issues of world poverty, self sufficiency, and life with dignity, 2) global competition makes it unlikely that most corporations will change unless it is profitable and necessary to attract consumers, 3) we can't wait for them to change, we have to be the impetus for their change.  As long as consumers support food corporations who continue to misuse land and unfairly benefit from cheap unethical labor, the number of families who cannot feed their children will increase.

I am no longer comfortable spending my food dollars in a way that increases poverty and encourages an economy based on exploitation.  I want to help grow the fair trade movement and encourage others to do likewise. I want to make it easy for people to find fairly traded food and ingredients when they are not locally grown.

I believe as consumers we have the power to shape the ethical practices of those who would call us their customers.  We can make it more profitable to do business ethically than unethically.  In the food industry, it is our consumer loyalty that allows a corporation to flourish.  In the end, it is our choice how we spend our money.  I choose to spend my money to support local growers and companies that offer fairly traded products.

I am optimistic and I have enormous faith in the goodness and power of everyday people.  We can create the change.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated. They are only posted after screening.