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Church official calls for non-Fairtrade chocolate boycott

LONDON - The Archbishop of York, the Church of England's second most powerful official, has called for UK consumers to boycott all non-Fairtrade chocolate products, citing the cocoa trade's links to child labour practices in the developing world.

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The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said UK consumers should adopt a self-imposed ban on non-Fairtrade chocolate, after drawing links between its production and incidences of child labour in the Caribbean.

The Archbishop said buying only Fairtrade chocolate would help "end the 21st century iniquity" of child labour, and offered a "chocolate challenge" to UK consumers to only buy Fairtrade chocolate from now on, following a visit to Jamaica.

He said: "If you can't find [Fairtrade chocolate] in your local shop, ask to see the manager and say that you will only buy goods which are not produced by slave labour; say you want to trade fairly. If you keep that promise, you could be playing your part in ending a 21st century iniquity."

While the Archbishop of York stopped short of naming individual chocolate manufacturers, including Nestle Rowntree which is based in his own diocese, the remarks could put added pressure on confectioners that do not use ethically sourced products and processes in the manufacture of goods.

Earlier this month, Sainsbury's said it would be converting key lines of its Tu clothing brand to 100% Fairtrade cotton, while US clothing retailer Gap has vowed to stop selling clothing lines that may have been produced under child labour.

According to lobbying group Stop the Traffik, more than 12,000 children in the Ivory Coast have been forced into labour to support the country's cocoa trade, while the organisation highlighted Co-op, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Tesco as among the larger UK retailers which had Fairtrade chocolate product lines.

A spokesman for the Archbishop of York told The Times he wanted to voice a "positive choice" for consumers in buying only Fairtrade chocolate, and added his remarks to consumers were "not about their addiction, but their preferences".

Cadbury-owned Green & Blacks became the first UK company to earn Fairtrade status in 1994, and has since successfully carved out a market for its ethically sourced chocolate.

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