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February 10, 2006

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Dave

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Simon in most cases sellers just have no idea about what you ask them.

Simon Warrick

If this strikes a chord for anyone, just try it. Go on, I urge you. Pick something you have bought recently, anything. Ask some simple questions of the people you bought it from. Over the past 3 years I've been doing this for numerous products, asking where the ingredients/components come from, how they were made, where they were made and by whom. I can count on one hand the number of responses I have had where I believe I have been given an honest and open answer with all the detail I asked for.

In most cases the response I get given is the standard - "we can't tell you because it is commercially sensitive information" or some variation of that. Quite frankly, I feel cheated by this. I want to know what it is I am buying, and where possible to know that my pound is buying something that hasn't harmed the environment and that I am not benefiting at someone else's expense. That is still a very tall order, but perhaps that is starting to change. Lets hope so. I may be wrong, but once corporates start to recognise that people want to know this stuff, those that don't disclose will be viewed with suspicion.

Luke Razzell

Another crucial aspect of this issue is the redistribution of ownership across the supply chain. Oxfam set up a coffee bar chain called Progreso which grants shares in the company to their growers' co-ops.

Whereas Fairtrade is effectively a charity handout, supply-chain equity redistribution could become driven by business logic as customers demand more ethical business relationships across the supply chain.

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