Daily News Archive

From November 16, 2001

Pesticide Use on Starbucks Coffee Beans to be Lowered, Activists Hold Concerns

At a coffee suppliers conference in Costa Rica on Monday, Starbucks announced a new program to use more environmentally sound coffee beans, according to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. As wholesale coffee prices have been dropping, "green" coffee producers suffered losses, some forced to give up their farms. Starbucks' announcement stated plans to reward coffee growers who've decreased pesticide use, and developed practices involving water and energy conservation, recycling, and safer working conditions. They plan to spend an extra ten cents per pound of coffee beans to encourage such practices.

Starbucks claims their reasoning is not only socially conscious, but beneficial to business. They are promoting farmers to grow a higher quality coffee bean. Starbucks Senior Vice President Mary Williams said, ""We want to ensure our supply line into the future by making sure the people who supply our coffee are paid well for it and cared for."

However, activists are critical. They protest that Starbucks has historically made many such socially conscious claims, but provided no monitoring to verify their claims. Deborah James, the Fair Trade director for Global Exchange stated, "You have to have a monitor to make sure they are going to be paid fairly…They refuse to disclose the location of their plantation so they can be monitored. If it isn't monitored, how do you know what is happening?"

Starbucks says they are working with Conservation International to find appropriate third-party monitors.

See the story from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (http://seattlep-i.nwsource.com/business/46428_starbucks13.shtml)