Hershey Should Increase Funding of Programs to Address Child Labor and Improve Conditions for West African Cocoa FarmersWASHINGTON, March 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The "Raise the Bar, Hershey!" coalition ( www.raisethebarhershey.org) welcomed last week's announcement from the Hershey Co. (HSY) that it has set deadlines to achieve its 100% certification goals and will be working with three independent, third-party certification firms to verify its cocoa is made in a responsible manner. " We are pleased by this news, especially the fact that Hershey has revealed the third-party certifiers it will be working with and a more detailed timeline for when it plans to transition its cocoa to responsible sources," said Elizabeth O'Connell, campaign director for Green America, " We welcome further details about the additional 'well-established certification organizations' Hershey states it plans to work with and how the Hershey Company will specifically prevent child exploitation from happening on the farms from which Hershey sources its cocoa." Hershey's announcement came after years of pressure on the chocolate industry, and Hershey in particular, to address the problems of forced child labor on the farms from where they source their cocoa in West Africa. Since 2001, instances of forced child labor and human trafficking have been documented on cocoa farms in Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, and other West African countries. According to the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University, an estimated 1.8 million children, aged 5 to 17, work on cocoa production in Cote D'Ivoire and Ghana. In Cote D'Ivoire alone, there are an estimated 109,000 children engaged in the worst forms of child labor on cocoa farms and some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement. The "Raise the Bar, Hershey!" coalition urges Hershey to report publicly and regularly on its progress toward meeting its certification goals. Additionally, the coalition urges Hershey to invest greater financial resources in programs that specifically address child labor on the cocoa farms from where it sources. Mars, Hershey's main competitor in the United States, has committed $300 million to sustainable cocoa initiatives by 2021, or .1% of 2012 sales. Hershey, on the other hand, has committed only $10 million by 2017, or .03% of its 2012 sales. To read more about Hershey's and other industry commitments to preventing child labor in Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire, see the coalition's March 14, 2013 Press Release and Confectionary News' March 20, 2013 article.About the "Raise the Bar, Hershey!" Coalition: GREEN AMERICA is the nation's leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today's social and environmental problems. www.GreenAmerica.org GLOBAL EXCHANGE is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world. www.GlobalExchange.org INTERNATIONAL LABOR RIGHTS FORUM is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. www.LaborRights.org OASIS USA is a non-profit organization committed to developing communities where everyone is included, making a contribution, and reaching their God-given potential. www.OasisUSA.org SOURCE Green America, Washington, D.C.