Dole banana plantations "anything but ethical"
A report released by Oxfam New Zealand in May 2013 suggested that bananas sold by Dole in New Zealand carrying the sticker "Ethical Choice" were anything but ethical. The report, The Labour and Environmental Situation in Philippine Banana Plantations Exporting to New Zealand, documented children under 15 working up to 12 hours a day, harassment of workers for joining a union, and aerial pesticide spraying while workers are on plantations.
Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand, said, “It’s time for Dole to stop making unsupported claims that they are selling ethically produced bananas. This research report shows the opposite – Philippine workers growing Dole bananas are subject to unfair and unhealthy treatment. New Zealand consumers deserve better than company green-washing. We are calling on Dole to drop the ‘Ethical Choice’ label.”
In August 2012, the New Zealand Commerce Commission warned Dole New Zealand that its self-created 'Ethical Choice' labels may breach the Fair Trading Act. The competition watchdog said that the 'Ethical Choice' stickers displayed on Dole's fruit, website and marketing materials may mislead consumers into believing that the company had gained independent third-party verification, and that it was more ethical than its competitors.
However, rather than withdrawing the label, Dole took steps towards preventing any challenge to its ethics. It applied to trademark its expression of ethical choice through the Patent Office.
According to Oxfam New Zealand, "once it has a trade mark, Dole will be able to defend itself against evidence of misleading labelling by saying they own the expression of Ethical Choice. This is not fair or ethical. Oxfam is calling on Dole to drop the trademark application".
Oxfam New Zealand has asked Dole to take urgent action to address these issues.
See more on the Ofam New Zealand website
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