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The Dark Side Of Chocolate Essay

2365 words - 9 pages

Chocolate. A treat that practically everyone enjoys and loves to taste. A product that brings in over 80 billion dollars a year. (BBC Chocolate: Bitter Truth) With that dollar amount to show, who doesn’t love chocolate? The reality, however, is that chocolate also has a different, darker side. The chocolate industry is causing children to work, not go to school, starve, and endure tremendous pain. “How is this happening without the chocolate companies doing anything about it?” you may ask. That is precisely the question many have today.
Approximately 70% of all cocoa in the world begins in West Africa. The Ivory Coast and Ghana are the two main producers of cocoa beans. West Africa is an excellent place to have cocoa plantations because of the heat and low rainfall that is critical for the cocoa tree to survive. These cocoa plantations often cover hundreds of miles with thick, lush trees. (BBC Chocolate: Bitter Truth) The bean, originally called ‘cocao’, is grown on a tree that ranges from 13-26 feet high. The bean pod is 4-15 inches long, and it takes 4-5 months to grow. When these pods have ripened, they are opened up and the contents inside are taken out. Inside the pod are many cocoa beans covered in pulp; a gooey substance that surrounds the beans. After removing these, they are dried in the sun for 3-9 days. The pulp is then taken off the beans, and the beans are spread out in the sun to dry completely. Continuing this procedure, the beans are bagged and sent off on a ship to the factories that turn them into delicious chocolate bars.(Dunn, Elton. Page 1)
Chocolate companies have been producing chocolate this way for decades, and planned to do so in the future. However, in 2001, evidence was shown that chocolate companies like Hershey’s, Nestle, and Mars were using child slaves to harvest the cocoa beans in West Africa. When the United States government went to Africa to investigate, the results were astounding: an estimated 284,000 children were employed in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria. Of these, 153,000 of the children applied pesticides without any body protection, 64% were under age 14, and the majority of the children used machetes to slice the cocoa pods open. It was found that the children were usually illegally trafficked from Burkina Faso, Mali and Togo, worked 12 hours a day, and endured frequent beatings from their masters. One third had never been to school, and only 34% were currently enrolled in school. (Combating Child Labour) This evidence surprised and angered many, and the public demanded action to stop the child slavery in chocolate. US Representative Eliot Engel proposed a legislative amendment for chocolate companies to end child slavery and to label their products with a ‘slave-free’ logo. After debating, it was finally decided that all the major chocolate companies would be given 4 years to completely erase slavery from their system. All the major corporations met and signed the Harkin Engel Protocol. By...

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