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Date [ 2014-04-01, 12:40 ]

Big corporations are guilty of violating human and animal dignity.

Big corporations are guilty of violating human and animal dignity. (Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Ramani Rathir = Do you ever stop consider what may lie behind the food you buy? Are the farmers getting paid a fair price for their produce? Are live animals transported humanely to slaughter houses? Are workers slaving away in some third world country to get the frozen shrimps to you? Almost never! Shoppers are more interested in the bargains for the day or the expiry date. What do they care about natives in Brazil driven from their ancestral lands for sugar cane plantations? Or chickens cooped in tiny cages where they can hardly stand upright in plastic cages 20 stacks high! Drivers in Indonesia making that one extra run, even though not many of them had an eight-hour rest. In Pakistan, rural communities inform that Nestlé is bottling and selling valuable groundwater meant for nearby villages that cannot afford clean treated water. In 2009, Kraft was accused of purchasing beef from Brazilian suppliers linked to cutting down trees in the Amazon rainforest to create grazing land for cattle. Plus today, Coca-Cola is facing allegations of child labour in its supply chain in the Philippines. Sadly, these charges are not anomalies. For more than 100 years, the world's most powerful food and beverage companies have relied on cheap land and labor to produce inexpensive products and huge profits. But these profits more often than not, have come at the cost of damaging the environment and causing hardships to local communities around the world. The result is the emergence of a food system in crisis. Today, a third of the world’s population relies on small-scale farming for their livelihoods. What is aggravating is that while agriculture today produces more than enough food to feed everyone on earth, a third of it is wasted. The irony of it is that while more than 1.4 billion people are overweight, almost 900 million people go to bed hungry each night. What is more galling is that the vast majority of the hungry are the small-scale farmers and workers who supply nutritious food to 2–3 billion people worldwide. Yet up to 60 percent of farm labourers live in poverty. At the same time, Man’s abuse of Mother Nature has resulted in changing weather patterns due to greenhouse gas emissions. A large percentage of which come from big scale agricultural production and contribute to making farming an increasingly unreliable occupation. Adding to the vulnerability of poor farmers and farm workers, are food prices that continue to fluctuate wildly. This is due to the demand for soy, corn, and sugar to feed affluent diets which are on the rise. And to top it off, the very building blocks of the global food system – fertile land, clean water and reliable weather – are growing scarce. These facts are not well kept secrets; for companies also realize that agriculture is now risky and are taking steps to guarantee future commodity supplies and to reduce social and environmental risks along their supply chains. Let us hope this is a turn for the better. Some of the spin-offs of this new train of thoughts are food and beverage companies speaking out against biofuels, building schools for communities and cutting back on water usage in company operations. Thankfully new corporate social responsibility programmes are proliferating and declarations of sustainability are now ubiquitous. The CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, in fact noted in 2011,”It is not enough to make things that taste good. PepsiCo must also be “the good company.” It must aspire to higher values than the day-to-day business of making and selling soft drinks and snacks.‟ Problem is, such claims of better environmental and social behaviour have thus far been extremely difficult to assess, despite rapidly growing consumer demand to know the truth of these claims. One NGO setting out to get a more clear picture is Oxfamwith its ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign. It evaluates where companies stand on policy in comparison with their peers and challenges them to begin a race to the top to improve their social and environmental performance. By targeting specific areas for improvement along the supply chain, the campaign pinpoints policy weaknesses and will work with others to shine a spotlight on the practices of these companies. The campaign focuses on 10 of the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies and aims to increase the transparency and accountability of the ‘Big 10’ throughout the food supply chain. Korean Press will keep its readers informed of the results. abc@koreanpress.net

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Ramani Rathir = Do you ever stop consider what may lie behind the food you buy? Are the farmers getting paid a fair price for their produce? Are live animals transported humanely to slaughter houses? Are workers slaving away in some third world country to get the frozen shrimps to you?

Almost never! Shoppers are more interested in the bargains for the day or the expiry date. What do they care about natives in Brazil driven from their ancestral lands for sugar cane plantations? Or chickens cooped in tiny cages where they can hardly stand upright in plastic cages 20 stacks high! Drivers in Indonesia making that one extra run, even though not many of them had an eight-hour rest.

In Pakistan, rural communities inform that Nestlé is bottling and selling valuable groundwater meant for nearby villages that cannot afford clean treated water.

In 2009, Kraft was accused of purchasing beef from Brazilian suppliers linked to cutting down trees in the Amazon rainforest to create grazing land for cattle. Plus today, Coca-Cola is facing allegations of child labour in its supply chain in the Philippines.

Sadly, these charges are not anomalies. For more than 100 years, the world's most powerful food and beverage companies have relied on cheap land and labor to produce inexpensive products and huge profits. But these profits more often than not, have come at the cost of damaging the environment and causing hardships to local communities around the world. The result is the emergence of a food system in crisis.

Today, a third of the world’s population relies on small-scale farming for their livelihoods. What is aggravating is that while agriculture today produces more than enough food to feed everyone on earth, a third of it is wasted.

The irony of it is that while more than 1.4 billion people are overweight, almost 900 million people go to bed hungry each night. What is more galling is that the vast majority of the hungry are the small-scale farmers and workers who supply nutritious food to 2–3 billion people worldwide. Yet up to 60 percent of farm labourers live in poverty.

At the same time, Man’s abuse of Mother Nature has resulted in changing weather patterns due to greenhouse gas emissions. A large percentage of which come from big scale agricultural production and contribute to making farming an increasingly unreliable occupation.

Adding to the vulnerability of poor farmers and farm workers, are food prices that continue to fluctuate wildly. This is due to the demand for soy, corn, and sugar to feed affluent diets which are on the rise. And to top it off, the very building blocks of the global food system – fertile land, clean water and reliable weather – are growing scarce.

These facts are not well kept secrets; for companies also realize that agriculture is now risky and are taking steps to guarantee future commodity supplies and to reduce social and environmental risks along their supply chains. Let us hope this is a turn for the better.

Some of the spin-offs of this new train of thoughts are food and beverage companies speaking out against biofuels, building schools for communities and cutting back on water usage in company operations. Thankfully new corporate social responsibility programmes are proliferating and declarations of sustainability are now ubiquitous.

The CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, in fact noted in 2011,”It is not enough to make things that taste good. PepsiCo must also be “the good company.” It must aspire to higher values than the day-to-day business of making and selling soft drinks and snacks.‟

Problem is, such claims of better environmental and social behaviour have thus far been extremely difficult to assess, despite rapidly growing consumer demand to know the truth of these claims.

One NGO setting out to get a more clear picture is Oxfamwith its ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign. It evaluates where companies stand on policy in comparison with their peers and challenges them to begin a race to the top to improve their social and environmental performance.

By targeting specific areas for improvement along the supply chain, the campaign pinpoints policy weaknesses and will work with others to shine a spotlight on the practices of these companies.

The campaign focuses on 10 of the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies and aims to increase the transparency and accountability of the ‘Big 10’ throughout the food supply chain. Korean Press will keep its readers informed of the results.

abc@koreanpress.net
Sugar_cane_workers as

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