Want to Boycott Philip Morris' Labor Abuses in Kazakhstan? Good Luck
In a press release yesterday, Philip Morris expressed its firm opposition to “child labor and all other labor abuses.” The statement came in response to a Human Rights Watch report that detailed incidents of forced labor, extortion and child abuse at tobacco farms in Kazakhstan. It’s only a matter of time before we see a call to boycott Philip Morris’ cigarette brands -- brands like Marlboro, Alpine, Basic, Benson & Hedges, Bristol, Cambridge, Chesterfield, Commander, Dave's, English Ovals, Lark, L&M, Merit, Parliament, Players, Saratoga and Virginia Slims. But if we’re talking serious boycott, we’ve got to get at the root of the source. Philip Morris, which actually changed its name to Altria Group, Inc. in 2001, is also in the business of food, coffee, juice and just about everything else you can imagine. The laundry list (well, they actually don’t do laundry products) goes as follows.
Beverages Country Time, Crystal Light, Kool-Aid, Tang Coffee General Foods International Coffees, Gevalia, Maxim, Maxwell House, Sanka, Yuban Desserts Baker's, Balance Bar, Calumet, Certo, Cool Whip, Dream Whip, Ever-Fresh, Handi-Snacks, Jell-O, Knox, Minute, Sure-Jell Cereals Alpha-Bits, Banana Nut Crunch, Blueberry Morning, Cranberry Almond Crunch, Cream of Wheat, Cream of Rice, Fruit &Fibre, Golden Crisp, Grape-Nuts, Great Grains, Honey Bunches of Oats, Honeycombs, Oreo O's, Pebbles, Raisin Bran, Shredded Wheat, Toasties, Waffle CrispThere’s more, but you get the point. Philip Morris’ absurdly long list of brands illustrates two things: 1. How deeply entrenched corporations – often bad corporations – are in what we eat; and 2: How difficult it is to fight back against their abuses.