In the News

Sweatshop Roses: The Hidden Price of Saying 'I Love You'

ABC News

Excerpt from article:

Roses are a symbol of romance to many people -- but not to Beatriz Fuentes.

Like many of the roughly 90,000 workers on giant South American flower plantations, Fuentes helps pick most of the roses that will be delivered to Americans this Valentine's Day.

But she says she is paid less than $50 for a six-day week of demanding labor, often under difficult -- some say illegal -- conditions, including contact with dangerous chemicals.... 


China's besieged factories: Activists aim to expose unscrupulous labor practices to shame companies

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

For each 60-hour week he works on an assembly line for Foxconn, a manufacturer of electronics and computer parts in this south China manufacturing hub, he earns $32 and a bunk in a dormitory room with 19 other laborers.

At the factory, managers forbid workers from talking or resting outside of two 10-minute breaks, he said.

Nothing says 'I love you' like chemical-laden roses Valentines


Excerpt from article:

BOGOTA, Colombia -- It's probably the last thing most people think about when buying roses: By the time the bright, velvety flowers reach your valentine, they will have been sprayed, rinsed and dipped in a battery of potentially lethal chemicals.

Most of the toxic assault takes place in the waterlogged savanna surrounding the capital of Colombia, the world's second-largest cut-flower producer after the Netherlands. It produces 62 percent of all flowers sold in the United States...


Saying it with flowers and saving the planet

Globe & Mail (Canada)

Excerpt from article:

TORONTO -- The organic flower market boomed in the past few years as people became aware of the environmental effects of the floral industry, say vendors riding the wave.

Scott Graham is among the vanguard, selling locally grown flowers in the summer and importing organic and sustainable flowers in the off-season. The owner of EcoFlora describes dramatically rising sales in the four years since he opened.

Unhealthy Flowers: Why Buying Organic Should Not End With Your Food


In recent years conscious consumers have enjoyed a spike in the availability of socially and environmentally responsible products. Worried about sweatshop shoes? Try on a pair of Adbusters' Blackspot sneakers. Concerned that your clothes were made in a dismal factory where the workers are paid starvation wages? Go with an American Apparel T-shirt or a No Sweat hoodie. If pesticide residues on your vegetables and hormone-laced meat are your worry, then head for the organic section at the supermarket.

For Americans, Giving Roses Is a Foreign Affair

New York Times via Dow Jones

If you are giving or receiving roses this Valentine's Day, chances are that they came from the same countries that produced your coffee. Nearly 90 percent of all roses sold in the United States are imported, and most of those come from Colombia. Other major rose importers include Ecuador, Mexico and Guatemala.

In future years, the same country that produces your tea may fill your vases with roses: China has made it a national priority to become one of the world's major rose exporters...  

Death by chocolate

Sunday Business Post (Ireland)

Excerpt from article: 

...‘‘I tried to run away, but I was caught . . . as punishment, they cut my feet, and I had to work for weeks while my wounds healed. I stayed in a large room with other Malian children from a neighbouring plantation.”

This was how a young boy from Mali, said he was lured to a cocoa farm in the Ivory Coast.

This was how he described his plight on videotape to a US court. He was one of the plaintiffs in a 2005 case brought by a US advocacy organisation, the International Labour Rights Fund...




Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Utne Magazine

Excerpt from article:

Analyzed by the most soulful of poets and adored tenderly by the most perfunctory of scientists, flowers have resounded through the ages as emblems of beauty, sex, and love -- the ideal token of affection for a sweetie or loved one. Yet the modern commercial flower and the $40 billion a year industry behind it have a sinister side that might just change the way you say "be mine" this Valentine's Day.