Organic Consumers Association


November 1, 2002

CONTACT: Simon Harris 510 525 7054 cell 510 459 6327

Tim Kingston 415 255 7296 x229 cell 510 551 9685

Donkey's and Coffee and Measure O: Oh my!

Berkeley Responsible Coffee Initiative Backers Target Starbucks For Not Keeping Their Word

Election day has finally rolled around, and in an effort to perk up the voters, proponents of Berkeley's Measure O, the Responsible Coffee Initiative will be handing out Fair Trade coffee and electoral information with the assistance of a Fair Trade Donkey on Monday morning Nov. 4, between 10 am and noon. Fair Trade activists and supporters of Measure O, an initiative that if passed would require all brewed coffee sold in Berkeley to be Fair Trade, Shade Grown or Organic, will be marching from Peet's Coffee in North Berkeley to Starbucks in downtown Berkeley to bring attention to companies that oppose Measure O.

The event will begin at 10am; Nov. 4, 2002 at 2124 Vine St. in North Berkeley and then at 10:45 am will proceed down Oxford Street to the corner of Center and Oxford St. at 2128 Oxford Street at approximately 11:15 am. The event will end at noon, Nov. 4. Measure O has received extensive national and international media coverage, but has been opposed by many coffee companies who resent municipal regulation. City of Berkeley campaign expenditure disclosure forms indicate that Starbucks, Peet's Coffee and the National Coffee Association have together contributed a total of $31,000 to defeat the measure. Starbucks, the largest coffee shop chain in the world, announced over a year ago that it would begin brewing Fair Trade Certified Coffee as the 'coffee of the day' on the 20th of each month in its U.S. stores beginning in early 2002.

But in the past 3 months over 200 Starbucks have been called to verify if they have followed through on their commitment to brew Fair Trade. In many cases Starbucks employees admitted that Fair Trade coffee was not being brewed on the 20th or was not even available in bulk beans at the store. "This is precisely why we need to pass Measure O, corporations can't be trusted to support coffee farmers without legal mandates," stated Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association. Valerie Orth, Fair Trade Organizer at Global Exchange, said "If Starbucks really wants to make a commitment to small coffee farmers, they should agree to increase their purchases of Fair Trade coffee instead of spending thousands of dollars to defeat an initiative which would make a real difference in the lives of thousands of coffee growers."

The Organic Consumers Association is a nationwide network of 400,000 organic consumers, which works with public interest groups worldwide to oppose GE and industrial agriculture and to promote organic farming. Global Exchange is a San Francisco-based international human rights organization that has been organizing grassroots support for Fair Trade coffee among consumers, retailers, and corporations such as Starbucks since 1999 .###

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