- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver talks about how chocolate companies take advantage of poverty and weak law enforcement to underpay cocoa farmers and use child labor while pretending they know nothing.
- It’s easy for companies to check for child labor on cocoa farms: they can simply visit the farms listed on their company website and will likely find child laborers.
- Oliver explains that the government needs to put pressure on chocolate companies to pay fair prices for cocoa beans and stop exploiting farmers and their families.
TV viewers received tragic news over the weekend. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver a lighter theme could have been used, so this week’s episode was all about chocolate. But wait… if Last week tonight dedicates its main segment to chocolate because there’s something wrong with it, isn’t there? Is there really nothing sacred in this series? Well, apparently not.
The thing about chocolate is that, since it is a product that is enjoyed by almost everyone in the world, you would think that the people who supply cocoa beans to chocolate companies would be laughing all the way to the bank. But this is not true at all. Cocoa farmers barely make enough money to feed their families, and that’s only because developed countries like the United States – and probably Willy Wonka too – import the fruit from underdeveloped countries like Ghana and Catalog. d’Ivoire.
How John Oliver emphasizes that it is not difficult to calculate what is happening: large companies underprice their main product, taking advantage of weak law enforcement and poverty, which causes locals to agree to work long hours and little compensation simply out of the need to have some source of income. This is not unique to the chocolate industry, but what stands out in this particular segment is that companies are well aware that their products are created by child labor and don’t even care about it.
Chocolate companies are not interested in investigating child labor on cocoa farms
As this episode makes clear, chocolate companies have been deferring responsibility for actively keeping children out of cocoa farms for nearly two decades by pretending it is beyond their control. The episode also demonstrated that all you need to do to check if children actually work on cocoa farms is to book a flight to one of the farms listed on the chocolate company’s website and look around – you’re sure to find one without much effort.
And it’s not that adult cocoa farm workers are doing any better—they work without protective equipment and, if other types of farmworkers are a model, they are probably paid far less than they deserve. Obviously, there is no simple solution to the problem, but there are ways out. The government needs to put pressure on the giant chocolate companies to pay more for cocoa beans, which in turn does not force cocoa farmers to force their family to work for profit. The biggest problem is that no one seems interested in putting pressure on chocolate companies.
HBO will air new episodes of the series Last week tonight every Sunday evening. You can also catch up with them on Max. Watch the full main segment below:
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