There could be slaves in the supply chain of your chocolate, smartphone and sushi


By Tim Fernholz @timfernholz October 19, 2013

Forced labor is a reality, and you might be using products made by workers who had no choice in the matter.

 The first edition of Global Slavery Index from the Walk Free Foundation, an anti-slavery NGO, estimates that there are 30 million slaves in the world—and more than half of them are in prominent emerging markets like India, China, and Russia. 

Modern slavery, as the index defines it, includes all kinds of forced labor, ranging from hereditary bondage in Mauritania, which has the largest slave population per capita in the world, to forced sexual exploitation, including the arranged marriage of minors. Most of the countries where slaves make up a significant slice of the population have a cultural tradition of bonded labor, like Haiti’s restavek system of indentured servitude for children (which can be an innocent way for families to help each other out, the report says, but is often abused).


But the largest form of forced labor is in private industry, where about two-thirds of people working in slave conditions—usually forced or bonded labor—are found. That’s why this new effort to measure global slavery exists: It’s part of a campaign funded by the chairman of one of the world’s largest miners, Andrew Forrest of Fortescue Metals Group, who wants companies to eliminate slavery from their supply chains. As global trade has led firms to source materials and labor from ever more far-flung locales, it has become easier for them to turn a blind eye to who makes their products. Here are just a few examples:

  •  This summer, an Australian man imprisoned in China reported that prisoners were making headphones for global airlines like Qantas and British Airways. Some 300,000 sets of the disposable headphones were made by uncompensated prisoners who were forced to work without pay and regularly beaten. The index says that there are about 3 million slaves in China, in state-run forced labor camps, at private industrial firms making electronics and designer bags, and in the brick-making industry.
  • Companies like Apple, Boeing and Intel—among thousands of others—have been under pressure to document that the tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold they use aren’t being mined by slaves in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a civil war has led armed groups seeking funding to force civilians to work. The US Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a rule forcing American firms to trace the minerals they use to their origins, and while business lobbies have sued to overturn it, industry leaders have begun planning to file the first required reports in May 2014.
  • In the Asian seafood industry, migrant workers may become forced laborers who harvest and prepare mackerel, shrimp and squid bound for markets around the world.
  • Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s leading supplier of cocoa—some 40% of the global supply—and much of it is grown and harvested by some children engaged in forced labor. In 2010, Côte d’Ivoire said 30,000 children worked on cocoa farms, although Walk Free’s index estimates as many as 600,000 to 800,000. While this has been widely reported on since 2000, and the global response has been strong, compared to that of other allegations of forced labor, the problem has not really been solved. As of 2012, 97% of the country’s farmers have not participated in industry-sponsored campaigns against forced child labor. Mondelēz International, the world’s largest chocolate producer, which owns brands such as Milka, Toblerone and Cadbury, has struggled for years to take forced labor out of its supply chain. It committed $400 million to a program aimed at creating a sustainable cocoa economy last year, but its efforts have been ineffective so far.

Many of the countries in the map above are not party to international human trafficking treaties or simply don’t enforce them. Many of the companies that use labor in those places have weak supply-chain policies in place. The goal of Forrest’s group, inspired by Bill Gates’ data-centric philanthropy, is to make slavery easy to quantify, and thereby pressure international companies not to put up with it.


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making the environment more friendly … is your member of Congress participating? 2014

PlasticbagsrecycleHave you started reclaiming, reusing, recycling, repurposing and or reducing items from your life that will cut the amount of material going into landfills or buying locally to hopefully reduce your eco-footprint as well? I’m in; even PBO alluded to a big change being needed for the next generation.

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives, led by Republicans are the minority party but they control the purse strings and if you listen closely, they sound like they had different school books, syllabus and teachers, so the path

to sustainable 21st Century living was is going to be a struggle.

Though after NAFTA the struggle for American workers was bad it also made most us all rely on goods made in foreign lands with questionable ingredients and on the cheap; I for one have looked at my clothes and sighed after finding brands that once sold mostly “made in the USA”   went to the dark side. I guess cheap really is too addictive. cheap labor cheap material is addictiveUCScleanairactpixcleanupchevron

Addictive, but the question is -  will authorities at the top recognize that NAFTA needs reforming due to an increase of carbon foot-print,  allowed foreign companies to possibly use toxic chemicals, use less than 100% organic and in some cases, let our children play with toys made with excessive amounts of lead.  We need a quick acceptance an apology and a big change implemented in every state regulating not just what comes into the US of A, but how, what is dumped, recycled and where; it makes sense on so many levels given what we now know about pollution, climate change, landfills and the effects on Americans …and our at risk population, whether folks want to admit it or not a reality check is needed.  Washington State, along with a few others decided they are all in on banning plastic bags though the effort needs to be much more vigorous as cooperation from big corporations who do not always implement the process fast enough, but we have to start somewhere right.


However, it is obvious that as those at the top debate and delay changes in our man-made and natural global warming experiences, they are leaving minorities and the poor out of the conversation of sustainable living, let alone offer up alternatives or commit to viable restorations of communities most impacted by bad urban planning. frackingWe have all heard or know that certain populations are definitely unable to control the negative impact that some big corporations are having on their communities or environments as more and more cases are revealed, aired and reported. It is disturbing to know that some cases are over twenty thirty years old or older, the sad truth that there were are too many middle class, minority and poor communities built on or near landfills, gas lines, ex-chemical plants, manufacturer plants or smokestacks with dirty air while providing jobs at those same facilities though the people had no idea that they and the lives of their families could be negatively affected and life in some cases probably cut short. The abuse of land in rural and or urban settings is not just offensive it is still unchecked and just one more thing the EPA needs to revisit.Deforestation-Amazon-1024x667_1_460x230


The idea of sustainable living is not new, yet, it means something different depending on what State you live in and how your officials deal with the agencies we are supposed to trust whether the issue is about fracking, mad cow, GMO ,salmonella etc. or bird flu.  Most people I know love all kinds of food and are careful about at home preparation, but I do believe that the way food is inspected, accepted and processed is still suspect and an update in federal laws regarding food inspection are overdue.  I hope we all agree that our food should not be considered a state’s rights issue; it is a keep the American population safe& healthy issue. I come from a fishing based family that believed in staying away from so-called store freshly caught and to always smell the fish, ask if wild or hatchery and if it’s wrapped in plastic question it all because it may look like the real deal but … I will admit I remember when most if not all seafood caught,  was “bought and sold fresh” and or” wild” but not farmed because my family preferred to buy at the market or buy at the pier, but mostly from my family fishing for it. When farm fisheries started popping up my family felt it might be a good way to keep wild off the endangered list, but unfortunately some collateral damage was created when some reports of  nasty toxic developments at some not all farmed hatcheries were found .

Cantwell-bristolbay-callout Unfortunately,

folks did not know in the early stages the influx of farmed fish to grocery stores and restaurants meant insufficient labeling or the profound lack of available information for consumers to make independent and or intelligent decisions by leaving out info whether it’s about fish, beef, chicken, clothes or toys they are selling comes from the most “environmentally friendly” way possible instead of taking risks that could hurt liveschickenofthesea

written 2/1/2013

Drought and its Effects on Your Family

                                                                      Photo: flickr/kecko

With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities in California providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. Thinking that drought isn’t having an impact on your family? Consider your food supply, drinking water and the fuel to the spread of fire.


Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline V Woodland Caribou other wildlife, land and water

Dear Activist,The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a serious threat to wildlife and our efforts to curb climate change.Secretary of State John Kerry has the first word on the pipeline and will be one of the key factors President Obama uses when making his final decision on the pipeline.

Help protect caribou and many more at-risk wildlife by sending a message urging Secretary Kerry to say no to the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.

Thanks for all you do!

Bob Fertik

National Wildlife Federation

Woodland Caribou Habitat at Risk of Destruction


Dear Friend of Wildlife,
A few weeks ago, the U.S. State Department released their final assessment on the environmental risks of the proposal to build the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.
Following the release of the final environmental impact statement, Secretary of State John Kerry will have an opportunity to make a decision on the pipeline before it reaches President Obama’s desk.
The survival of thousands of woodland caribou in Alberta, Canada and many more wildlife is at stake with this pipeline decision, so it is absolutely critical that Secretary Kerry hear the strong opposition from America’s wildlife advocates.
Please help save woodland caribou’s habitat by telling Secretary of State John Kerry to say no to the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline today.
Sadly, the woodland caribou’s boreal forest habitat is already rapidly disappearing due to timber, oil and gas development. And now, what remains of their fragile habitat is threatened by massive expansion of tar sands if the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline is approved.
Woodland caribou require large tracts of relatively undisturbed old growth forest for their food and shelter. We know that if the Keystone XL pipeline is approved, the associated tar sands strip mining would destroy a 1,200 square mile swath of forest and devastate the fragile eco-system on which they depend. In fact, if habitat destruction from tar sands is not stopped, scientists predict that some herds in the region could disappear in as little as 30 years!
We only have a few weeks to demonstrate to Secretary Kerry the significant public concern there is about the risks—to wildlife and the environment—of building the Keystone XL pipeline. Hearing from wildlife advocates will be crucial as Secretary Kerry’s initial decision will weigh heavily into President Obama’s final decision on this destructive pipeline proposal.
Protect woodland caribou and urge Secretary Kerry to take a stand against the dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
In addition to the dramatic loss of habitat, the pipeline would also significantly increase the carbon pollution that is fueling climate change and already harming wildlife across the country.
Secretary Kerry has spoken out about environmental issues that imperil wildlife and has been a champion for strong climate change action in the past.
Now it is critical that Secretary Kerry hears from as many people as possible about how harmful this dirty pipeline would be for woodland caribou and many more wildlife—so he and President Obama can reject Keystone XL once and for all.
We only have a small window to voice our concerns to Secretary Kerry about the risks to wildlife.
Please take action today to save threatened woodland caribou.
Thanks for all you do to protect wildlife.
AndyAndy Buchsbaum Interim Executive Director, NWF Action Fund Join us on Facebook