White Gold: Sugar, Globalization and Struggling Workers

Home > Learn More > Stories & News > White Gold: Sugar, Globalization and Struggling Workers

Posted on 10/28/2013


Millions of small-scale farmers around the world live in poverty.
Millions of small-scale farmers around the world live in poverty.

A major challenge facing children and families in poverty is the threat of large companies acquiring land and resources in developing countries, known as land grabbing. These global conglomerates, which largely operate within the food and beverage industries, reap the rewards of cheap labor by millions of farmers, who often are living in extreme poverty even as they contribute to providing food for millions.

'Behind the Brands'

Beginning as part of Oxfam's GROW campaign, Behind the Brands is one initiative that is attempting to make a difference in the lives of workers living in poverty. The basic goal behind the campaign is to raise awareness about how global food and beverage companies treat their workers, and scores are given out to the 10 largest companies to let the public know how their policies affect small-scale farmers and workers.

According to the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, many small farmers have not benefited from international trade. Although there is a demand for the food produced by the farmers, land grabs from large companies, unfair labor practices, and related harmful practices have weakened economies of the surrounding communities. Behind the Brands found that approximately 60 percent of the small-scale farmers and workers providing supplies and services to large companies are living below the poverty line.

Several multinational corporations have responded to initiatives like Behind the Brands and revamped operations. For example, three of the largest players in the chocolate industry -- Mondelez International, Mars and Nestle -- have agreed to change policies to improve the lives of cocoa farmers throughout the world. Responding to pressure from organizations and consumers, these brands will now seek to evaluate how their workers in developing countries are treated, according to Oxfam America.

Looking Out for Farmers

Although the quality of life may be improving for some workers and families in developing countries, there is still much to be done to achieve sustainable development. You can make a difference in the lives of children in need by becoming a child sponsor. For just $28 per month, you can sponsor a child and help supply a boy or girl with the nutritious food, clean water, educational opportunities and health care they need to grow into healthy, independent adults. Your generosity can make a world of difference as these children strive to break out from extreme poverty and become independent adults.