It’s been on the cards for a while, but news of Jane Griffiths’ deselection was finally confirmed this weekend. I could add some barbed comments to the BBC story. But deselection speaks for itself.
Monthly Archives: February 2004
There was a very interesting piece on Minnesota Public Radio’s The Splendid Table on February 7th exploring the growing debate about fair trade coffee in the US. Guest Kevin Knox, a buyer for Starbucks and Alegro Coffees, talked about the demand for quality beans which fair trade in the USA has yet to meet.
The argument reminded me very clearly of the debate around fair trade coffee in the UK over the past decade. When first introduced, fair trade coffees were pretty much undrinkable, but over the past few years they’ve developed to the point where 5065 can be marketed alongside other quality instants. But it is that word ‘instant’ which is one of the key issues to focus on. The US coffee market doesn’t want to know about instant coffee and while CafeDirect may be producing high quality instants in the UK, that same quality isn’t seen on a wide scale in fair trade beans in the US.
Hopefully that will change as it has done here, with a wider range of fair trade products appearing: a range of prices and qualities. Until then Knox is likely right that it is only the liberal, starbucks-drinking crowd who are going to go for fair trade in a big way.
The other point which Knox made was also a good one. He noted that in Europe fair trade products are part of a movement which is seeing fair trade products sitting alongside brandname products, and that seeks for major brands to realign their businesses with fair trade principles. The US movement has yet to reach that point, according to Knox. Perhaps that’s a question of maturity in the movement, but it is something that should be borne in mind. This action from Sojourners is a good sign.
Knox’s use of words like ‘subsidies’ are, however, a little awkward. But maybe that’s just the anti-capitalist in me showing through. He seems rather more committed to keeping costs low, to me, and doesn’t pick up on any issues such as the disproportionate share of profits taken by importers, the fundamental need for external validation of fair trade practices, or the desparate need for restructuring of trade agreements.
Nevertheless, it’s great to see public debate of such issues extending around the world.
At points he told us the truth:
“free societies are societies that don’t develop weapons of mass terror and don’t blackmail the world.”
At points he stated the obvious:
“the leaders from Iraq, there is no question in my mind that people that I have seen at least are thrilled with the activities we’ve taken.”
And throughout he dodged the issues. Perhaps someone needs to tattoo the definition of the word ‘quote’ on Bush’s hand?
[all quotes from George W Bush's appearance on NBC's Meet The Press, Sunday 8th February 2004]
I can’t say I’ve ever had much respect for any Murdoch publication or news network. News Corporation is just far too sinister a name. But today has, perhaps, been the day in which I’ve most reviled the corporation and its powerbase.
Or I guess it could have been this rather less incendiary, rather more revealing piece in the Washington Post.
Either way, I’m just glad Murdoch isn’t allowed to run for US President. A Berlusconi-figure in Italy is bad enough, scale it up to the US and I’d be tempted to start reading Left Behind novels as futurism. Heavens forbid.