Magazine article New Internationalist

Fair Trade Dust-Up

Magazine article New Internationalist

Fair Trade Dust-Up

Article excerpt

A vigorous international debate has erupted over the fair trade movement.

Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) is opening the door to major corporate interests - with sponsorship from the likes of Walmart - by taking the decision to accredit coffee plantations.

FTUSA President Paul Rice is aggressively unrepentant. 'It baffles me that somehow innovation in our movement is unacceptable,' he says. If plantations adopt fair trade, he believes, it can expand fast to become 'democratic' and 'fair trade for all'.

In May, FTUSA broke with Fairtrade International. Responsible for setting international standards, Germany-based Fairtrade International is sticking to its founding principles and accredits only coffee produced by farmers' co-operatives. It wants to expand the relatively small proportion of their coffee that is as yet accounted for by fair trade.

'The problem comes,' comments Rodney North of Equal Exchange in the US, 'when the certifiers... grant Fair Trade certification to plantations -where a Fair Trade sale is making much less, if any, change in the social, economic or political order. …

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