Despite over five years of grassroots pressure, Starbucks continues to serve milk from cows that are injected with genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone, also known as rBGH or rBST. Virtually every industrial country, except for the United States, has banned the sale of rBGH milk. Milk produced from cows injected with rBGH poses serious dangers to human health and the general welfare to dairy cows.
The time has come to kick rBGH off the market, once and for all. If Starbucks, a major buyer of milk, were to reject rBGH dairy products, we could effectively eliminate it from the market.
Similarly, while Starbucks has slowly bought more certified Fair Trade coffee, it represents only a very small percentage of their total coffee (about 3.7%). Starbucks rarely offers certified Fair Trade coffee as their coffee of the day, nor has it followed its own policy of brewing Fair Trade coffee, on demand.
Many coffee farmers receive prices for their harvest that can be less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt. They are often forced to sell to middlemen who pay them half the market price, generally between 30-50 per pound.
Fair trade coffee sells for a minimum of $1.26 per pound.
This money goes directly to coffee farmers, not to predatory middlemen.
Fair Trade farmers are also insured access to credit at the beginning of the harvest season so they can support themselves during the "lean months" between harvests.
A typical Fair Trade farmer cultivates less than 3 hectares (7 acres) of coffee and harvests 1,000-3,000 pounds of unroasted coffee a year
More than 500,000 farmers around the world produce and sell more than 170 million pounds of coffee each year through the Fair Trade network. Over 100 fair trade coffee brands are sold worldwide in approximately 35,000 retail outlets (7,000 in the US).
About 85% of Fair Trade Certified coffee is shade grown and organic as small farmers have never had the money to purchase chemicals.
The first fair trade coffee label was started in 1998 in Holland under the name Max Havelaar and has since been followed by many others. In 1997, Fair Trade labelers formed an international umbrella group called Fair Trade Labeling Organizations (FLO) International, which defines the criteria for each product certified under the Fair Trade system, including coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, honey, bananas and orange juice.
There are now over 50 importers and roasters in the US the largest being Equal Exchange (www.equalexchange.com) who imported 1.6 million pounds of coffee last year.
... Unfortunately the supply of fair trade far outstrips the demand. Of the 170 million pounds of fair trade coffee produced globally only 35 million pounds are sold on the fair trade market. Coffee companies need to aggressively promote fair trade coffee.
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