Sunday, 16 August 2015

Lies, damn lies, and newspaper headlines...

Today's Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday article on coffee, which unjustifiably attacked Laura Alvarez the wife of Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, serves to highlight two of the many things which are wrong with the current system. Namely (1) that the global price of commodities is fixed by the stock market not by the producer, and (2) newspapers think they have the right to sling mud at innocent people and get away with it.  

Coffee is the 2nd largest commodity market in the world!

(1)  Coffee is one of many things that is traded on what is called the commodities market. The price then set by the brokers often bears little relation to the actual cost of production incurred by the coffee growers, it's all about the brokers. In years where the harvest does well the commodity price drops, in years where there is a poor harvest then it rises. None of this takes account of the needs of the sole farmer growing his crop and facing local issues such as weather conditions, diseases, labour costs, living expenses, etc. 

To read an interesting article on how the commodities price for coffee works see here: http://www.ibtimes.com/coffee-beans-market-watch-2014...
and to see which other commodities are priced in the same way, see the NASDAQ page here: http://www.nasdaq.com/markets/coffee.aspx.

Fair Trade coffee sets a floor, or base price, below which the price paid to farmers must not fall, but even that can leave huge discrepancies in income versus production costs for the farmers themselves because it is still based on the commodities system. The only way to improve things is to do away with the commodities market and set up a better system that actually benefits those who produce the product (i.e. farmer and workers) rather than those dealers on the stock markets.

The Mail headline claims that Cafe Mam is Laura Alvarez' business. 

THIS IS NOT TRUE!

(2) Ms Alvarez's business is called Mexica Products Ltd, which, according to DueDil, "was founded on 17 Jun 2013. The organisation's status is listed as "Active" and it currently has one director. Its founding director was Ms Laura Alvarez Tonis.  Mexica Products Ltd does not have any subsidiaries."  The company is listed as a Wholesaler of Coffee, Tea, Cocoa and Spices. Ms Alvarez is not listed as an owner or a staff member of Cafe Mam! 

Cafe Mam is an American business, base in Eugene, Oregon. The history and ownership of  Cafe Mam is given on their own website as follows,
This story begins in 1982, when a group of farmers in Mexico read a magazine article in the Co-evolution Quarterly about New Growth Forestry, a worker-owned cooperative pioneering in stream restoration work in northern California. They were interested in learning how to teach erosion control in Mexico. This group of farmers invited one of New Growth’s members, Dahinda Meda (Café Mam founder), to visit them in Tlascala, Mexico, and teach classes on erosion control. In 1987, two of Dahinda’s students from that class, Jose and Marta, became advisors on organic techniques to the recently formed coffee cooperative, ISMAM (Indigenas de la Sierra Madre de Motozintla).

In 1989, ISMAM harvested its first certified organic crop of coffee, and because of the connection with Jose and Marta, Dahinda purchased the first 37,500-pound container of coffee from ISMAM (invoice # 0001). Thus, Café Mam was born.
If you want to know more about the coffee market, and Fair Trade principles, this is well-worth a read: http://www.globalexchange.org/fairtrade/coffee/faq

The dirty tricks brigade!

The reason that Ms Alvarez has been singled out for this unjustified attack is that she is the wife of the man whom that newspaper does not want to become the next leader of the Labour Party!  So, if they cannot denigrate him and his policies they will attack his family. Next will be his ex-wives, his children, his parents, and possibly even his grand-parents! 

It is a shame that journalists sink to such depths, but it also demonstrates just how rattled the established media is by the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn being elected leader of the Labour Party.  

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether or not the Daily Mail will apologise for its error in the same large print in which the allegation appeared, or even if it will apologise at all!

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