Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is urging Iowans to say it with flowers instead of chocolate this Valentine’s Day. Harkin says children are being employed to process cocoa beans in West Africa. Since 2001, there’ve been on-going negotiations with the chocolate industry to — in Harkin’s words — “eliminate the worst forms of child labor, child slavery and trafficking in the cocoa trade.” Harkin says those talks have collapsed, and Harkin says he’s done trying to talk the chocolate industry. Now, he’s considering legislation that would require labels on chocolate products to show where it comes from. According to Harkin, 90 percent of the cocoa bean farms in Africa’s Ivory Coast use child labor. Harkin says this Valentine’s Day, he’s giving his wife, Ruth, flowers instead of chocolate because he can’t buy chocolate without knowing if children were exploited in harvesting or processing the cocoa beans.
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