[Marxism] Forwarded from Victor R.

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 14 11:45:34 MST 2004


Victor R:
>What you think?  I am interested in hearing Lou Pro's opinion.  Also, 
>anyone recommend any good books critiquing so-called "fair trade" and the 
>corrupt NGOs that promote it.

I don't know of any books on the topic, but perhaps the most sleazy of all 
the companies involved in "fair trade" is Body Shop, the natural cosmetics 
outfit. Their founder Dame (!) Anita Roddick says on their website:

"For me, campaigning and good business is also about putting forward 
solutions, not just opposing destructive practices or human rights abuses. 
One key area where my business and personal interests naturally combine is 
through The Body Shop Community Trade initiatives. It all started in 1989 
when I attended the gathering at Altamira of Amazonian Indian tribes 
protesting against a hydro-electric project which would have flooded 
thousands of acres of rainforest, submerging native lands. There had to be 
something practical I could do to help these people preserve their 
environment and culture. Nuts? Specifically Brazil nuts, which the Indians 
gathered sustainably from the forest and which when crushed produce a 
brilliant oil for moisturizing and conditioning. This first trading 
relationship with forest people, unused to any real commercial activity, 
was fraught with pitfalls and dangers. But 13 years on we're still trading 
with them and have even set up a Green Pharmacy project producing remedies 
based on traditional knowledge of forest plants – reducing dependency on 
inappropriate and expensive modern pharmaceuticals."

Another perspective from: http://www.jonentine.com/articles/bodyflop.htm

     *   While Body Shop has touted its products as "naturally based" and 
"inspired by Nature," many of its bright colours and thick fragrances are 
produced in the laboratory. There have been instances of product 
contamination over the years, according to Food and Drug Administration 
inspection reports, interviews and documents from quality control managers, 
and statements from disgruntled franchisees. In the early '90s, various 
guides, including Consumer Reports, criticized Body Shop products on 
overall quality or for liberal use of synthetics.
     * David Brook, a former Environmental Protection Agency lawyer who was 
Body Shop's manager of environmental affairs in the U.S. in the early 
1990s, dismissed the company's environmental claims as "window dressing." 
He provided environmental-agency records documenting discharges of 
pollutants into the local water system at Body Shop's former U.S. 
headquarters in New Jersey. He says that after management blew off these 
and other problems, he quit in frustration.
     * There is sometimes a gap between Body Shop's assertions that it 
"campaigns for human rights all over the world," and company practices. 
After Roddick, in a 1993 speech before the Congress of the International 
Chamber of Commerce, applauded companies that refused to trade with nations 
led by "torturers and despots," such as China, enraged employees sent me 
photocopies of supply manuals indicating Body Shop bought many of its gift 
baskets from Chinese companies. The Roddicks later said that, rather than 
boycott entire countries, Body Shop would require suppliers to sign a 
labour-standards code of conduct.
     * The most famous of Body Shop's media-celebrated "Trade Not Aid" 
initiatives, sourcing Brazil nuts for hair conditioner from an Amazon 
tribe, has been rife with controversy. The face of its promotion, a 
grinning Kayapo chief, filed suit over the use of his image. A Kayapo 
expert from the University of Chicago ridiculed the fair-trade initiative 
as "Aid Not Trade"-aid from developing peoples to Body Shop. According to a 
U.K. fair-trade research group, Body Shop's 1993 payments to Third World 
producers amounted to 0.165% of its retail sales.
     * Even Body Shop's reputation for charitable giving has been an issue. 
In 1994, reporters quoted Roddick as saying, "so what else do I do with the 
money than give it away to groups and projects relevant and right for our 
times." The record told a more penurious story. Whatever the Roddicks 
personally may have given away, the company says it has no record of making 
financial donations prior to 1986, a year in which it gave 0.4% of pretax 
profits to charity. Its giving averaged 1.46% a year in the following 
decade. (The percentage recently has gone up, albeit from a smaller profit 
pie.)




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