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</P> Romancing with chocolates? Show your love for your Valentine--and for humanity--by giving fair trade chocolates, those luxurious treats containing cocoa produced with high labour standards such as no forced or child labour practices..

Choose the Fairest One of All

Romancing with chocolates? Show your love for your Valentine--and for humanity--by giving fair trade chocolates, those luxurious treats containing cocoa produced with high labour standards such as no forced or child labour practices. It's a growing trend worldwide--in 2001, international sales volumes of fair trade cocoa increased by 23 per cent over 2000 to 1,240 tonnes, according to Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO). Here at home, FairTrade Canada realized its first fair trade cocoa sales in 2001.

Look for brands made by companies like Rapunzel, Cloud Nine and La Siembra. For instance, Ottawa-based La Siembra, maker of Cocoa Camino chocolates, guarantees more than 10,000 small cocoa and sugar farmers a fair, above-market price for their crops. In fact, La Siembra became the first Canadian company to be awarded the prestigious Socially Responsible Business Award, presented last October at the 18th Annual Natural Products Expo in Washington, DC. For more information on fair trade, see the FLO, fairtrade.net, and TransFair Canada, transfair.ca. To tempt your beloved this Valentine's, pick up organic, fair trade chocolates at your health food store today.

Quebec's Pesticide Ban Under NAFTA Threat

La Belle Province was Canada's first province to ban cosmetic
pesticides, including known or possible carcinogens or endocrine disruptors such as lindane, captan and the herbicide 2,4-D. Presented in July 2002, the Pest Management Code states that by 2003, synthetic pesticides will be prohibited in all day-care facilities and schools, and cosmetic pesticides will be banned from all public lands. By 2005, the ban will extend to all private green spaces. The Code is expected to come into effect in early 2003.

But one day after Quebec's environment minister presented the Code, a group of 2,4-D manufacturers in the US threatened to sue the Quebec government under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for projected profit loss. The Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (CAP) is calling for international support for the Quebec government to stand against the pesticide manufacturers' lawsuit. See the addresses and sample letter at panna.org/resources/documents/QuebecLetter.dv.html. The Quebec Pesticide Management Code is available at menv.gouv.gc.ca/.

Case of the Wicked Wicks

A candlelit evening can give you and your heart-throb more than a romantic glow. Candlewicks are often treated with lead to stiffen them and give a more even burn. But burning the candle releases fine particles of toxic lead into the air. Just four hours of burning can produce levels of lead in the room that are four to 13 times the safe limit of 1.5 microgram per cubic metre set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Most lead-containing candles are manufactured in the Far East. American and European manufacturers generally use zinc to stiffen the wick and a ban on the sale of leaded candles is currently being considered in the US.
An estimated 10 per cent of candles available in Canada have lead wicks, according to Health Canada. When buying, Health Canada suggests you ask the retailer if the candles contain lead wicks. For candles you already have at home, here's how to check for lead:

  • Remove any wax from the tip of the wick.
  • Separate the fibre strands from the wick to see if the candle has a metallic core.
  • If the candle has a metallic core, rub the core on a piece of white paper. A gray-coloured mark left on the paper likely indicates lead.
  • If so, throw out the candle.


More Pesticide Bans on the Horizon

Close to 60 Canadian municipalities have already banned cosmetic lawn pesticides. Many more Canadian cities--including Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto--are also considering bans.

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