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Think twice before sending flowers this Valentine’s Day

By Vladimir Nardin, February 12, 2013.  Source: pissedconsumer.com

Valentine’s Day reminds us each year that romance isn’t dead. We hope.

1_400x300Ah, but that red rose you receive will be dead in days. Its petals will wilt and fall, its novelty will wear off. Its innocence died long before. Your sweetheart did not pick the rose from a neighbor’s lawn; more likely it was picked in Colombia or Ecuador by an underpaid and possibly underage laborer, then imported and marked up for the masses.

From Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, 2012, the United States Customs and Border Protection agency processed approximately 842 million cut flower stems grown abroad. Sixty-seven percent came from Colombia and 23 percent came from Ecuador. Its country of origin isn’t stamped on each petal, but a Valentine’s flower is like a garden-variety cell phone or designer shoe: Rarely made in the USA.

The reason, of course, is cheap labor. In 2003, the International Labor Rights Forum launched the “Fairness in Flowers campaign” in response to the substandard working conditions in South America. There, ILRF reports a litany of labor issues. The right to organize is routinely denied. Sexual harassment and forced pregnancy tests are part of the “office culture.” Toxic pesticides and fungicides cause health problems – particularly in Ecuador, where an estimated 20 percent of the flower workers are children.
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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Industrial agriculture, Latin America-Caribbean, Youth