“He points out that no—one is just a consumer or a producer — we are all both at the same time. He argues that the time has now come to put body and soul, justice and the environment together. There´s no time to lose.” Stan and Marci Marcel Thekaekara in the introduction.
This is another book from a long list of excellent short pithy guides to issues ranging from Climate Change to Animal Rights that The New Internationalist produces. Always readable & reliable.
Fair trade, an idea whose time has come and is working well on many levels, is in direct contrast to so—called Free Trade. Globalization has created free trade agreements and many international institutions that always favour big, rich producers and manufacturers to the disadvantage of the poor and small. Ransom visits many farmers & tells the stories of farm workers and small farmers impoverished by deals made in distant lands. Under NAFTA, the small Mexican maize producers were soon bankrupted by the dumping of the USA of subsidized (and often GMO) maize on the ´free´ Mexican market. Free trade has much to do with corrupt government officials who loot the public treasuries, borrow funds abroad and enforce debt repayments on the labour and products of the poor.
He also visited farmers who have made deals through their cooperatives & work groups with fair trade buyers, guaranteeing set prices and a new form of security. It is a growing form of trade, benefiting buyers who get a superior product, usually sustainably and organically grown, and sellers who get a decent payment and are able to pass the benefit on to their own local communities. Coffee is one of the best known and most traded crops, followed by cocoa and fruit.
Ransom addresses the concerns that many of the world´s exploited workers are in factories — producing clothing and equipment. He follows the production of our iconic blue jeans as an example of how exploitation occurs at many levels and some of the efforts to address these issues. It is hard to establish and to monitor these companies — many of whom claim fair practices that are hard to verify. The workers are still at the mercy of the bosses.
He says that it will take much more than individual fair trade deals to make a significant difference; what is needed is mass action by citizens calling for ´Trade Justice´ and laws to enforce it, more action and solidarity in labour movements in the minority world and more democracy and workers´ rights in the majority world.
In spite of the bureaucratic problems of ensuring safeguards and trust at all stages of the fair trade process, the idea in action is out there and growing rapidly. Ransom gives us many ideas that will put body and soul, justice and the environment together.