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Activists Give Major Chocolate Companies Poor Marks for Human Rights

FILE - Children living in a cocoa producing village walk back from the fields carrying wood and food stuff on their heads on the outskirts of the town of Oume, Ivory Coast, June 30, 2005.

A U.S.-based green economy group says some of the world’s most popular chocolate companies are not so sweet when it comes to human rights and sustainability.

Green America gives Godiva chocolate an F in efforts to reduce child labor and deforestation in cocoa production and supply chains.

Ferroro and Mondelez were both rated D while giant manufacturers Lindt and Hershey were given C. Mars and Nestle were rated C+.

Top-rated candymakers, including Endangered Species, Equal Exchange, and Tony’s Chocolonely all earned an A.

“Children should be able to enjoy candies that aren’t made by child laborers and these child laborers should be enjoying their childhoods rather than being forced to work in dangerous conditions,” Green America’s Charlotte Tate said.

“The aim of Green America’s scorecard is to help consumers feel confident about choosing chocolates that are ethically sourced with high-quality ingredients.”

Activists estimate that 1.6 million children of poor families work in Ghana and Ivory Coast harvesting cocoa beans for chocolate production. Most cocoa farming families earn about $2 a day.

The activists also say unsustainable cocoa farming has decimated rainforests.

Low-rated Godiva was the only company to respond to the report so far, saying it “ensures ethical sourcing through agreements with our suppliers to comply with our Godiva code of conduct which explicitly prohibits the use of forced child labor.”