Tony's Chocolonely - the makers of slave-free chocolate bars - launched their limited edition "Sweet Solution" at UK supermarkets in January. The controversial edition identifies KitKat (Nestlé), Twix (Mars), Toblerone (Mondelēz) and Ferrero Rocher (Ferrero) in similar pack designs. The offer was dropped after one day in stores due to pressure from the affected chocolate companies. The four look-alike chocolate bars are designed to raise awareness that 20 years after the chocolate industry promised to eradicate illegal child labour, it is still widely prevalent. The eye-catching stunt follows the release of the US Government sponsored NORC Report from 2020 that points to the cocoa industry's failure to address numerous human rights violations in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. Over 1.56 million children and at least 30,000 victims of modern slavery are forced to work on cocoa plantations. Big chocolate companies, including Nestlé, Mondelēz, Cargill and Barry Callebaut, are now confronted with a lawsuit alleging child slavery claimes in Cote d'Ivoire. It is the first time that a class action of this kind has been filed against the cocoa industry in a US court. In 2001, these companies signed the 'Harkin-Engle Protocol' in which they promised to stop using child labour by 2005. Instead, they have asked for extensions of time and now claim that by 2025 they will reduce by 70% their reliance on child labour. Rather than make progress, their use of child labour is actually getting worse.
Corporate America is now frantically trying to distance itself from Trump after a mob whipped up by Trump invaded the Capitol. These gestures come after four years of enabling Trump's anti-democratic practices. While Trump moved steadily along the path to authoritarianism, large companies allowed themselves to be bought off with tax giveaways and regulatory rollbacks. German chemical and pharmaceutical giant BAYER invested around 500,000 USD in the US election campaign with a clear preference for the Republican candidates. BAYER benefited from Trump's retrograde environmental policies, especially the efforts to roll back limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The MONSANTO takeover also met the goodwill of the US President. Moreover, Trump provided BAYER with support in matters of "glyphosate". Government agencies intervened in a compensation process in favor of BAYER and, through massive political pressure, dissuaded Thailand from enforcing a planned glyphosate ban. On their way out the door, officials such as Andrew Wheeler of the EPA are trying to limit the options the Biden Administration will have to restore pollution controls. In August 2019, Andrew Wheeler refused to approve product labels warning glyphosate - the active ingredient in Roundup, a weedkiller owned by its MONSANTO subsidiary - is a carcinogen. This happened at a time when BAYER was inundated with lawsuits claiming Roundup caused several thousand cancer incidents.
Mondelēz International, the parent company of Cadbury, Nabisco, Oreo, Ritz and other major food brands, still uses palm oil in the majority of their products despite it being one of the most unsustainable vegetable oils in existence, linked to deforestation in Indonesia. Mondelēz and the other big multinational food companies, have destroyed an area of rainforest almost twice the size of Singapore between 2015 and 2018. Mondelēz and other companies in the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a corporate alliance of food and household goods producers, had promised that by 2020, they would stop sourcing palm oil from producers that destroy rainforests. Deforestation is one of the biggest overall threats to the climate and is responsible for the decline of hundreds of species. Orangutans are heavily endangered, with the possibility of going extinct in just a few short years, and a large part of this is due to the growth and expansion of the palm oil industry. Mondelēz have largely outsourced the implementation of their non-deforestation policies to the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). However, the RSPO's weak standards and its failure to stop producer members abusing those standards, are significant factors in the palm oil industry's continued destruction of rainforest. Unsurprisingly, Mondelēz is supplied by palm oil traders like Wilmar International and Indofood who continue to sell palm oil contaminated by forest destruction. Consumers are becoming more aware of this and started to boycott Mondelēz International until the company phases out the use of palm oil and switches to more environmentally sound vegetable oils.
McDonald's announced it will be closing around 200 US stores before the end of the year amid a slump in profits due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks McDonald's! This is good news for the planet. McDonald's is one of the last large chain fast food restaurants that does not offer vegan or plant-based options in the US, which is surprising considering the growing meat-less trend that is gaining momentum across the country - with one-quarter of Americans saying they are trying to eat more plant-based foods. Even McDonald's fries in the US are not vegan because they contain beef fat. McDonald's continuously promote meat products, encouraging people to eat meat more often, which wastes more and more food resources. Seven million tons of grain fed to livestock produces only one million tons of meat. McDonald's has been losing profits and closed hundreds of stores in the last years. More people are aware that the chain exploits million of animals: nearly 300 million chickens are slaughtered for the chain each year. Considering having McDonald's for breakfast? Think again. Not only does one large egg contain more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol, hens used for eggs are stuck inside filthy, cramped cages and can't stretch even a single wing.
JBS is the world's biggest meat packing company and single biggest supplier of beef. JBS has been repeatedly linked to suppliers found to be engaging in illegal deforestation in the region and operating illegally on protected Indigenous lands. Growing international demand for beef has become a key driver in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Deforestation is directly linked to a handful of major food corporations. The EU imports more than 600 million USD worth of beef from Brazil each year. And that will increase if the EU and member states approve the new Mercosur trade deal with Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay to gradually let 99,000 tonnes of low-tariff South American beef into Europe every year. In July 2020, Amnesty International, with Réporter Brasil, revealed that cattle illegally grazed in protected areas of the Amazon state of Rondonia had entered the JBS supply chain. JBS' inability to control its Brazilian beef supply chains is responsible for deforestation in the Amazon and the loss of lands belonging to indigenous people. We will hold JBS accountable. Netzdemo Portal announced an online protest in support of the campaign #AmazonCeaseFire against JBS meat industries on September 25th, 2020. Join the online protest!
Europe faces a potential water shortage for the third year in a row as 2020 continues to be one of the warmest years on record around the globe. Groundwater sources are an important reserve for the future and should remain untouched. But the greed of bottling companies like Nestlé are acquiring more water sources. The picture is the same all over the planet - the remaining unpolluted waters are increasingly in the hands of a few companies. Nestlé, owner of the Vittel and Contrex brands, is now facing a mounting series of problems in north-east France where it obtains its supplies for those mineral waters. Nestlé has drawn 800 million litres of water annually for the past 30 years. The aquifer has been unable to replace the 3.5 centimetres of water removed annually. The French government considered building a pipeline from a neighbouring community to bring water to the citizens of Vittel. That plan would have allowed Nestlé to continue draining the aquifer. However, in October 2019, the French government announced it would limit Nestlé's water extraction in Vittel and cancel the water pipeline. In July 2020, consumer and environmental groups started legal action against Nestlé for extracting water from certain boreholes without authorisation, and have accused the authorities of favouring the giant corporation over the needs of local people. For instance, between 2007 and 2017 Nestlé removed more than 900,000 cubic meters of water from one of the boreholes without having a permit and then sold it under the name Contrex. Use the Buycott app to boycott Nestle products!