WASHINGTON - February 2 - On Valentine’s Day, millions of Americans will give flowers and chocolate to their loved ones, oblivious to the dark side of these gifts -- toxic pesticides, child slavery, and labor exploitation. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is releasing a new Flash animation Feb.6, titled "Slammed," designed to raise the consciousness of mainstream consumers.
OCA's Flash animation is expected to reach over 1 million people via the Internet. On Feb. 3 there will be a Sneak Preview for members of the media of "Slammed" in advance of its public release on Feb. 6. To view the sneak preview, email firstname.lastname@example.org and the Flash URL will be sent by reply email.
"The Organic Consumers Association is releasing 'Slammed' to draw attention to the unethical practices that transnational corporations routinely employ in the making and cultivation of chocolate and flowers, especially around times of increased consumer demand, such as Valentine's Day," said Ronnie Cummins, national director and co-founder of the Organic Consumers Association. "With 40 percent of the world’s chocolate coming from Cote d'Ivoire where the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the U.S. Department of State have reported for three years there is pervasive child slavery, it is grossly immoral for companies such as Nestle, Hershey’s, M&M/MARS, and retailers such as Wal-Mart to profit off of exploiting children and small farmers. Fortunately, Americans can choose from a wide variety of organic and Fair Trade chocolates on Feb. 14, Valentine's Day, that are competitively priced and ethical."
Organizations such as the International Labor Rights Fund and the Pesticide Action Network have found that commercial flowers, produced in countries such as Colombia and Ecuador, are the most toxic and heavily sprayed agricultural crops on Earth, and that workers in the flower industry, often young women, are forced to work 18-hour days for poverty wages during peak flower buying times such as Valentine's Day. The journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that in Costa Rica, where many cut flowers in the U.S. come from, the flower industry is, "responsible for direct discharge of pesticides into waterways..." while the journal Mutation Research found that greenhouses in Mexico used 36 different chemicals, including DDT.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), with over 850,000 members in its national network, is urging Americans to boycott traditional chocolate and flowers this Valentine's Day in favor of gifts that are organic and Fair Trade. OCA has compiled as list of retailers and distributors of Fair Trade and organic chocolate and flowers The list can also be found online at http://www.organicconusmers.org/valentines.