Posted by: w00107746 | February 6, 2008

Response from Dean Sue

Below is the response our movement responded from the Dean of Students, Sue Alexander. We appreciate her support of our cause but would like to point out that we feel the Mars Corporation has not done nearly enough to address the issue of child labor.

Mar’s failure to comply with the Harkin-Engel Protocol is spectacular. In response to this vocalization Mars Incorporated has signed two protocols, the Harken-Engel Protocol and the International Cocoa Initiative, intending to stop abusive child labor. These protocols are supposed to ensure the inspection of cocoa producing farms and prevent sub-standard labor conditions. However, the Harken-Engel Protocol, which endeavored to eliminate all forms of abusive child labor by 2005, was a failure. Now the industry claims that it will ensure only 50 percent of the cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and Ghana are free of child labor by July of 2008.[i]

Only by guaranteeing Fair Trade will farmers be paid an adequate wage and Children will be able to attend school rather than work on the farm.

Dean Sue’s letter is attached below.

Hi Ryan,

I’m sorry to be delayed in responding to your message from last Friday, I was hoping to get an update at the President’s Council this week about plans for the college to connect with the Mars Corporation. First, I want to salute the student organizers for not only exploring this very critical global issue and for the very reasonable suggestions you have made for the college to explore ways to respond. Anyone who has spent time in a developing country recognizes the pressing and challenging issue of child labor – whether it results in trafficing of children, or the kind of poverty/economy that forces families to put their children to work in order to survive.

I believe Mike Graca is communicating with the Mars Corporation about the ways in which they have already taken steps in West Africa to address child labor and working conditions for the growers and he expects to have specific information on this soon.

As an aside, while I don’t have information on the Mars operations in Africa, I had occasion earlier this year to meet Frank Mars, one of Adrian and John’s sons, who works in the business. We spoke about the Mars involvement in Brazil where they are developing sustainable methods of growing coco that are providing better income for local growers and contributing to the preservation of the rain forest. I have always understood the Mars family to be concerned about the ethics of their business as well as the working conditions for their employees, so I expect that the company has not only addressed the issues you’ve raised but will be very willing to provide a response.

I’m sure we’ll have an opportunity to talk more about this!

Dean Sue


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