The Role of Slavery in Chocolate Production

Chocolate’s Heart of Darkness

Directed by Paul Moreira (DW) 2019

Film Review

In this documentary, filmmaker Paul Moreira visits illegal cacao plantations in the Ivory Coast that employ child slaves to prepare the cacao beans they sell to local cooperatives. One third of plantation workers are children, most immigrants from drought and violence plagued Burkina Faso.

Parents sell children to traffickers for the equivalent of 300 euros each. The traffickers, in turn, sell them to growers. Typically the children work without pay for up to six years. Then growers with a small plot of land to grow their own cacao. In addition to performing forced labor, the children are required to spray plantations with lymphoma-linked Roundup without protective masks or suits.

The illegal plantations result from systematic deforestation of “classified” forest reserves.

The Ministry of Forests is supposed to enforce laws again child labor, slavery and illegal deforestation but clearly fails to do so. Likewise Cargill and other global food merchants are in violation of international agreements not to purchase beans from illegal plantations.

The global chocolate industry generates $100 billion annually, with growers receiving only six percent of this income.

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