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Children call for pesticide-free Christmas

UK (December 6, 2002) - School children will today deliver a special Christmas present to confectionary giant Cadbury calling for lindane-free chocolate under the Christmas tree this year.

The pupils will also hand over a petition signed by more than 3,000 youngsters from around the country, demanding real food.

The youngsters from Generation Earth, a youth campaigning group linked to Birmingham Friends of the Earth, are targeting the chocolate manufacturer following recent tests showing that traces of the pesticide lindane were found in Cadbury’s Dream chocolate bars.

Lindane has been banned in the EU but is still used by some cocoa-growers in parts of West Africa. It has been linked to breast cancer, birth defects and damage to the nervous system.

Friends of the Earth is calling on Cadbury to ensure lindane is removed from their supply chain by switching to agreements with individual growers and co-operatives so it can be sure that they do not use the pesticide. Cadbury currently buys cocoa on the spot market, which includes cocoa from growers who may still be using lindane.

By ensuring the growers receive a fair price for their beans, Cadbury can also help West African farmers find alternative, ways of producing cocoa which are less dependent on dangerous pesticides, and ensure that working conditions are safe.

The environmental group is also calling on the multinational company to take action to help collect unused stocks of lindane in West Africa, to ensure that the pesticide is no longer used on cocoa crops, or on other crops, and to finance research into non-chemical pest control for a range of crops grown in the region.

The major chocolate manufacturers have so far failed to respond to concerns about the chemicals used in their products, or criticisms about exploitation of workers. In contrast, the Co-op has recently switched its entire range of chocolate bars to Fairtrade by sourcing cocoa through the Day Chocolate Company.

Friends of the Earth Real Food campaigner Pete Riley said: "As a socially-responsible company, Cadbury must take action to prevent this dangerous pesticide appearing in their products. Lindane is a persistent and dangerous chemical which builds up in children’s bodies. It also damages the health of the farm workers in West Africa. Cadbury’s can act in everybody’s interest by buying directly from suppliers who are lindane-free.”

Fran Higginson from Generation Earth said: “Everyone likes eating chocolate, but we want to choose chocolate that won't harm the environment, the people who grow it, or us. Chocolate should be pesticide-free, GM-free and fairly traded.

Friends of the Earth Youth and Education Officer Karen Jesnick said: “Thousands of young people have signed this petition calling for real food. They don’t want to put their health at risk by eating chocolate bars and other foods containing pesticides. Cadbury’s should listen to what their customers have to say and give everyone a present with lindane-free chocolate this Christmas time.”

Source : Friends of the Earth

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