A Legal Definition for Fair Trade: Will It Bridge the Gap?

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A Legal Definition for Fair Trade: Will It Bridge the Gap?

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Will a legal definition for #fairtrade bridge the gap? http://3bl.me/a7pzdt @Justmeans #csr

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Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 1:00pm


(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - The Fair Trade Resource Network (FTRN) recently emailed a survey to its members and supporters asking if they would support the idea of creating a legal definition of the term 'fair trade.' Of the 80 supporters they contacted only 20% were in support of this idea.   

Jeff Goldman, the Executive Director, spoke with me about FTRN's reasoning behind this initiative.  

"Legalizing the term 'fair trade' has three goals," Jeff told me."First, it would simplify confusing definitions and the marketing efforts of fair trade. Secondly, it would accelerate growth for the producers. Third, the fair trade community is currently stuck with huge fragmentation and conflict. This could be one, compelling project that incentivizes collaboration."  When the FTRN's board recently met together they decided this was their single greatest idea to foster fair trade unity. They don't pretend to believe that everyone will like the outcome of the process, but they do believe it's better than remaining in the current state of fragmentation.   

"We believe this worked well with organics. It opened up the movement and a multi-stakeholder process took place."  

The FTRN plans to act as the kick starterto the process and handle the administrative and fundraising responsibilities. But at this point, there isn't enough to support to even begin the process.   

The most conservative members of the fair trade movement are concerned a legal definition will water down their own approach and therefore not have enough impact. And some people think Fair Trade USA has been divisive, selfish and conducted untruthful behavior, and some groups say that they aren't ready to be at the table . . . .  Some organizations that are very excited, but at this point we need more critical mass in the movement to support it." 

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Julie lives in Cambridge, MA and is currently pursuing her MBA in Managing for Sustainability at Marlboro Graduate School in Vermont. She has a background in international development and grassroots organizing and is passionate about equitable wages, labor rights and the global income disparity. Julie is also a new blogger for Just Means and Socialearth. If you can't find Julie in Cambridge, she's probably on the beaches somewhere in South Florida.

Keywords: Ethical Production & Consumption | Corporate Social Responsibility | Ethical Consumption | Fair Trade Resource Network | fair trade | organics | sustainable development | sustainable food