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Title: Flowers, Diamonds, and Gold: The destructive public health, human rights and environmental consequen


1
Flowers, Diamonds, and Gold The destructive
public health, human rights and environmental
consequences of symbols of love
  • Martin Donohoe

2
Overview
  • Flowers
  • Diamonds
  • Gold
  • Alternatives/Solutions

3
Say it with flowers
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Flowers
  • Long history of religious, folk, heraldic and
    national symbolism
  • Gifts of love, friendship and filial devotion
  • St. Valentines Day
  • Mothers Day

7
The Floriculture Industry
  • 30 billion cut flower industry
  • Major producers Holland, Columbia, Kenya,
    Zimbabwe, Ecuador, India, Mexico, China, Malaysia
  • Worlds largest producer Dole Fresh Flowers
  • Largest import markets U.S. and Germany

8
The Floriculture Industry
  • 190,000 workers in developing countries
  • Ecuador and Columbia account for ½ of flowers
    sold in U.S.
  • Most profit flows to large, multinational
    corporations, headquartered outside producing
    countries
  • Small amount reinvested locally

9
Floriculture and Women
  • Predominantly female workforce
  • Low wages
  • No benefits
  • Short contract cycles
  • Child labor, dismissal for pregnancy, unpaid
    overtime common

10
Floriculture and Labor
  • Labor organizers harassed, workers fired for
    trying to organize unions
  • Third party contractors shuffle workers from
    plantation to plantation, avoiding payment of
    social security and inhibiting union organizing

11
Floriculture and the Environment
  • Floriculture displaces crops grown for local food
    consumption
  • Contributes to malnutrition and increased local
    food costs
  • Requires large quantities of irrigation water
  • Contributes to drop in water tables

12
Floriculture Toxic Exposures
  • Flowers most pesticide-intensive crop
  • Greenhouses increase ambient levels of pesticides
  • 1/5 of pesticides banned or untested in U.S.
  • Carcinogens, persistent organic
    pollutants/endocrine disruptors

13
Floriculture Toxic Exposures
  • Flowers carry up to 50X the amount of pesticides
    allowed on foods
  • USDA inspects for pests, but not pesticides

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Floriculture Health Effects
  • Over 50 of workers have symptoms of
    organophosphate pesticide exposure (cholinergic
    symptoms)
  • Other common health problems
  • Allergic reactions, heat stroke, pneumonitis,
    RSI, cellulitis, UTIs, neuropathies, mental
    health problems, cancers, reproductive problems
    (low sperm counts, spontaneous abortions, fetal
    anomalies, etc.)

17
Floriculture Health Effects
  • Labeling, handling, and storage problems rampant
  • Protective gear often lacking, not working
  • Reuse of pesticide-saturated greenhouse plastic
    for domestic purposes not uncommon
  • Workers wash / bathe children in same sink

18
Floriculture Health Effects
  • Local physicians poorly-trained, lack resources
    to manage pesticide-related health problems
  • Many providers employed by floriculture company
  • Conflict of interest

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21
Diamonds
  • Symbols of wealth, power, love, and magical
    powers
  • Created from carbon early in the earths history
    under extreme temperature and pressure
  • Discovered in India around 800 B.C.
  • Commercial mining began in 1866 in South Africa

22
Diamond Production
  • Australia, Zaire, Botswana, Russia and South
    Africa major mining countries
  • Antwerp, Tel Aviv, New York and Mumbai (Bombay)
    major trading centers
  • Most cutting done in Tel Aviv, Mumbai, New York
    and Thailand
  • Major retail markets U.S. (48 of diamond
    jewelry) and Japan

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26
The Diamond Engagement Ring
  • Diamond engagement ring introduced in 1477
    (Archduke Ferdinand ? Mary of Burgundy)
  • De Beers Mining Company
  • Founded by Cecil Rhodes in 1888

27
Cecil Rhodes(Rhodesia, Rhodes Scholarship,
DeBeers Mining Company)
  • We must find new lands from which we can easily
    obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit
    the cheap slave labour that is available from the
    natives of the colonies. The colonies would also
    provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods
    produced in our factories.

28
Diamond Rings
  • 1939 DeBeers hires N.W. Ayer and Company to make
    diamonds a psychological necessitythe larger
    the diamond, the greater the expression of love.
  • By 1942, 80 of engagements in U.S. consecrated
    with diamond rings (still true today)
  • Diamonds first worn by stars to the Oscars in 1942

29
Diamond Rings
  • 1947 A diamond is forever slogan born
  • Jewelers instructed to tell (pressure?) men - who
    buy 90 of all diamonds to spend at least 2
    months salary on the ring
  • Later Anniversary diamonds

30
Pet JewelryThe Diamond Dog Collar
31
Diamond Rings
  • 1999 Advertising Age magazine declares A
    Diamond is Forever slogan the most effective of
    the 20th Century
  • Recognized by 90 of Americans
  • 2003 De Beers begins to market diamonds to
    single women
  • Your left hand says we, your right hand says
    me.

32
Diamonds Profits and Losses
  • 120 million carats rough diamonds mined for
    jewelry per year weigh 24 tons, worth
    approximately U.S.12 billion
  • 1 carat diamond retails for 350-750 in the U.S.
  • Cost less than 2 billion to extract
  • Ultimately sell for over 50 billion

33
Diamonds Profits and Losses
  • Workers desperately poor but hoping to strike it
    rich in casino economy
  • Work under dangerous, unhealthy conditions for
    pittance
  • Diamonds may be embedded in asbestos
  • Workers suffer from cancer, leukemia, silicosis

34
Diamonds Profits and Losses
  • Middlemen, diamond dealers and exporters earn the
    lions share of profits
  • Most foreign nationals
  • Very little profit re-invested in local
    communities

35
Diamonds Human Rights Abuses, Conflict and
Terrorism
  • Mine owners violate indigenous peoples rights
    via destruction of traditional homelands and
    forced resettlement
  • Mining hastens environmental degradation of
    ecosystems already under severe stress

36
Diamonds Human Rights Abuses, Conflict and
Terrorism
  • Diamonds have been used by rebel armies in
    Angola, Sierra Leone the Democratic Republic of
    the Congo to pay for weapons used to fight brutal
    civil wars
  • Child soldiers
  • Forced labor
  • Sex slavery, HIV
  • Terrorize local populations (e.g., RUF in Sierra
    Leone killed and mutilated thousands via
    amputations with machetes and axes in 1990s)

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Diamonds Human Rights Abuses, Conflict and
Terrorism
  • Al Qaeda and Hizbollah have used diamond monies
    to
  • Fund terror cells
  • Hide money targeted by financial institutions
  • Launder profits from criminal activity
  • Convert cash into a commodity that is easily
    transportable and holds its value

39
Diamonds Human Rights Abuses, Conflict and
Terrorism
  • Smuggled and illicit conflict diamonds may amount
    to as much as 10-15 of diamond jewelry sold
    worldwide
  • U.S. State Dept.

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43
Gold
  • Dominant role throughout history in the growth of
    empires and the evolution of the worlds
    financial institutions

44
Uses of Gold
  • 80-90 of gold mined today turned into jewelry
  • 10-20 used by industry
  • Special properties malleable, ductile, good
    thermal conductivity, durable, and resistance to
    corrosion
  • Used by Catherine de Medici as poison and by
    physicians to treat rheumatoid arthritis

45
History of Gold
  • 4000 B.C. gold first fashioned into decorative
    objects
  • By 1500 B.C. the standard medium of exchange for
    international trade
  • Mid-1800s Gold rushes in California and South
    Africa

46
Gold Production
  • Top producers South Africa, United States,
    Australia, Indonesia, and China
  • 2500 tons mined each year
  • Valued at 21 billion
  • Typical piece of gold jewelry sells for at least
    4 times the value of the gold itself

47
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48
The Wedding Ring
  • Formulated from a variety of minerals throughout
    history
  • As with diamonds, aggressive marketing has played
    a significant role in popularizing the gold
    wedding band

49
Where is the Gold?
  • Currently 3 times more gold sits in bank vaults,
    in jewelry boxes, and with private investors than
    is identified in underground reserves
  • Enough gold to meet current consumer demand for
    17 years

50
Gold MiningThe Myth
51
Gold MiningThe Reality
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59
MiningThe Worlds Deadliest Industry
  • Tens of thousands killed mining gold and other
    minerals over the last century
  • 40 killed per day presently
  • Union-busting / human rights abuses help maintain
    cheap labor force

60
MiningThe Worlds Deadliest Industry
  • Local communities suffer environmental damage,
    pollution, dislocations
  • STDs rampant, spread by miners to wives and
    children
  • FGC

61
The Resource Curse
  • ½ of gold produced worldwide between 1995 and
    2015 has or will come from indigenous peoples
    lands
  • Dependence upon gold mining slows/reverses
    economic growth, increases poverty, and
    encourages governmental corruption

62
The Resource Curse
  • Benefits go to corrupt central governments and
    overseas corporations
  • Little returned to local communities
  • Casino economy
  • Rural and indigenous peoples evicted without
    prior consultation, meaningful compensation, or
    the offer of equivalent lands elsewhere

63
The Resource Curse
  • ¾ of active gold mining and exploration sites
    overlap with regions of high conservation value,
    such as National Parks and World Heritage Sites

64
U.S. Gold Mining
  • Mining Law of 1872
  • Archaic law
  • Mine purchase price between 2.50 and 5.00 per
    acre
  • Generous government subsidies
  • Cheap fuel
  • Road building and other infrastructure
  • Reclamation and cleanup

65
U.S. Gold Mining
  • Local communities stuck with multi-million to
    multi-billion dollar environmental cleanup costs
    when mines declare bankruptcy or move on
  • Native Americans rights violated

66
Gold MiningGold Cyanide Mercury
  • At least 18 tons of mine waste created to obtain
    the gold for a single 3 oz., 18k ring
  • Gold leached from ore using cyanide
  • Cyanide paralyzes cellular respiration

67
Gold MiningGold Cyanide Mercury
  • Mercury used to capture gold particles as an
    amalgam
  • Mercury converted to methylmercury in environment
  • significant neurotoxin
  • Minimata Disease
  • China, Brazil

68
Minimata DiseaseW Eugene Smith
69
Gold MiningGold Cyanide Mercury
  • 4000 tons used to purify gold during 19th-Century
    Northern California Gold Rush
  • Fish in Sacramento River and San Francisco Bay
    still show elevated levels

70
Gold MiningEnvironmental Damage
  • Contaminated groundwater often sits in large
    toxic lakes held in place by tenuous dams
  • Release of cyanide and mercury into local
    waterways kills fish, harms fish-eating animals,
    and poisons drinking water

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73
Gold MiningEnvironmental Damage
  • Omai gold mine in Guyana (one of the largest
    open-pit mines in the world)
  • Tailings dam failed in 1995
  • 3 billion cubic liters of cyanide-laden tailings
    renders downstream 32 miles of Omai River, home
    to 23,000 people, an environmental disaster zone

74
Gold MiningEnvironmental Damage
  • Baia Mare gold mine in Romania
  • Tailings dam broke in 2000
  • 100,000 metric tons of toxic wastwater spilled
  • Fish killed, other animals harmed, drinking water
    of 2.5 million people in Danube River watershed
  • Coastal dumping of gold mine waste elsewhere
    damages estuaries and coral reefs

75
Gold, Mercury and Malaria
  • Mercury pollution contributes to the spread of
    malaria
  • Mercury may lower immunity to malaria
  • Still pools of water serve as mosquito breeding
    grounds
  • Migrant miners import new strains, infecting
    indigenous peoples
  • E.g., Thousands of Yanomami Indians killed in
    Brazil in late 1960s / early 1970s

76
Gold Other Environmental Harms
  • Gold smelting uses large amounts of energy and
    releases SO2, nitrogen dioxide, and other
    components of acid rain
  • Contributes to asthma, skin ailments
  • Release of lead causes lead poisoning

77
Gold Other Environmental Harms
  • 40 of Western U.S. watersheds affected by gold
    mining pollution
  • More than 25 mines (some still active) on
    Superfund list
  • Mine pollution ruins farmlands and strains local
    food resources
  • Water tables decline due to pumping of enormous
    quantity of water to release gold from ore

78
Gold Mining Harms Women
  • By displacing agriculture (where women play a
    major role), removes women from labor force
  • Concentrates economic power in hands of men
  • Diminishes womens financial resources and
    educational, political, and legal opportunities

79
Gold Mining Harms Women
  • Mining employs a few women in low-level, clerical
    positions, where they face severe discrimination,
    sexual harassment, and firing for pregnancy
  • Women have to walk further to collect water
  • Utilization of child labor

80
Gold Mining Human Rights Abuses
  • Grassberg mine (worlds largest, owned by
    U.S.-based Freeport-McMoRan)
  • On land seized from Amunge and Komoro peoples
  • Dumps tons of cyanide-laced waste into local
    rivers each day
  • Operators implicated in forced evictions,
    murders, rape, torture, extra-judicial killings,
    and arbitrary detentions
  • Abetted by Indonesian military, which it has paid
    millions of dollars

81
Gold Mining Terrorism
  • Echo Bay Mines Limited purportedly paid off Abu
    Sayef (affiliated with Al Qaeda) in exchange for
    protection of its Philippines-based gold mine

82
Gold Markets vs. Morals
  • Mining industry maintains strong ties with
    governments to maintain status quo
  • 21 million political contributions in U.S.
    between 1997 and 2001
  • Subsidies make it cheaper to extract new gold
    than to recycle existing gold

83
Gold Markets vs. Morals
  • U.S. government has 8,134 tons of gold secured in
    vaults (worth approximately 122 billion)
  • Federal Reserve and other major central banks
    have agreed to severely restrict sales from their
    reserves, offering, in effect, a price support to
    gold

84
Gold Markets vs. Morals
  • Gold mining supported by World Bank and its
    profit-making arm, the International Finance
    Corporation
  • Gold industry blocking International Monetary
    Fund- and World Bank-sponsored debt-forgiveness
    package

85
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Flowers
  • Grow your own
  • Purchase locally- or internationally-produced,
    organically-grown, labor-friendly bouquets
  • Farmers markets
  • Whole Foods
  • http//www.proflowers.com
  • http//www.organicbouquet.com
  • Others

86
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Flowers
  • Consumer education
  • Pressure on supermarkets, florists
  • Boycotts ? voluntary eco-labels in Europe
  • NGOs developing industry standards
  • Food First Information Action Network Flower
    Campaign ? voluntary International Code of Conduct

87
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Flowers
  • Veriflora Certification System
  • Organic production with phaseout of pesticides
  • Water conservation
  • Safe waste management
  • Mitigation of previous environmental damage
  • Fair labor practices / fair wages / overtime pay
    / right to organize
  • Unannounced audits ensure compliance

88
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Flowers
  • Veriflora Certification System Campaign focused
    on
  • supermarkets (29 of U.S. flower sales, market
    share increasing, 50 major companies)
  • Less focus currently on wholesalers (1200
    nationwide) and florists (30,000, 47 of market
    share)
  • Society of American Florists yet to endorse

89
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Diamonds
  • Consider alternatives to traditional engagement
    ring
  • Cubic zirconium
  • Synthetic/cultured diamonds
  • LifeGems (diamonds created from carbon captured
    during cremation of human and animal remains!)
  • Other

90
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Diamonds
  • Purchase only verifiable conflict-free diamonds
  • cut, color, clarity, and conflict
  • Query jewelers, consumer education, boycotts,
    protests, shareholder activism

91
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Diamonds Kimberly Process Certification Scheme
  • Requires rough controls to assure conflict-free
    diamonds
  • Governments license miners
  • Diamond traders utilize sealed, tamper-proof
    containers
  • Integrated computer databases in importing and
    exporting countries catch discrepancies

92
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Diamonds Kimberly Process Certification Scheme
  • Importing countries enact strict customs
    regulations, backed by thorough inspections and
    harsh penalties
  • Supported by diamond industry and UN General
    Assembly
  • Involved countries (69) slow and often
    ineffective in enacting Scheme

93
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • U.S. Clean Diamond Act of 2003
  • Mandates participation in Kimberly Process
    Certification scheme
  • Money from fines (up to 10,000 for civil and
    50,000 for criminal penalties) and seized
    contraband earmarked for victims of armed
    conflict
  • Implementation slow

94
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Diamond industry supports self-regulation
  • Amnesty International/Global Witness 2004 survey
  • 1/5 of companies responding able to provide a
    meaningful account of their policies
  • Less than ½ of jewelry retailers able to give
    consumers meaningful reassurances that diamonds
    conflict-free

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96
Safe Diamonds (?)
97
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Gold
  • No Dirty Gold Campaign
  • Halt to production and sale of gold produced at
    expense of communities, workers, and the
    environment
  • Mining companies not to operate in areas of armed
    conflict
  • Take the pledge at http//www.nodirtygold.org
  • System similar to Kimberly Process

98
No Dirty Gold Campaign
  • Companies pledged
  • Zale Corporation
  • Signet Group (parent firm of Sterling and Kay
    jewelers)
  • Tiffany and Company
  • Helzberg Diamonds
  • Fortunoff

99
No Dirty Gold Campaign
  • Companies pledged
  • Cartier
  • Piaget
  • Van Cleef and Arpels
  • Fred Meyer Jewelers
  • TurningPoint
  • Michaels Jewelers

100
No Dirty Gold Campaign
  • Companies that have not pledged
  • Rolex
  • JC Penney
  • Wal-Mart
  • Whitehall Jewelers
  • Jostens
  • QVC
  • Sears/Kmart

101
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Gold
  • International Labor Organizations Convention
    169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in
    Independent Countires
  • Requires culturally-relevant consultation before
    appropriation of indigenous peoples lands and
    that indigenous peoples participate in benefits
    of mining
  • Signed and ratified by 17 countries (but none of
    major gold mining countries)

102
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Gold
  • Consumer pressure, boycotts, shareholder
    resolutions
  • Consider recycled/vintage gold, eco-friendly
    gold, alternatives to traditional wedding
    ring/class ring
  • Develop biological and chemical treatments to
    decrease/destroy cyanide, mercury and other
    mining contaminants

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104
Safe Gold
105
Symbols of Love Alternatives and Solutions
  • Consider alternative tokens of affection
  • Homemade gifts (cards, photo collages, videos,
    poems, meals, home improvement projects)
  • Donations to charities
  • Eco-jewelry made from recycled materials by
    indigenous peoples
  • Profits returned to local communities, providing
    wide-ranging social and economic benefit

106
Conclusions
  • Cut flowers, diamonds, and gold as symbols of
    love are cultural constructs perpetuated in part
    by the persuasive marketing efforts of
    multinational corporations
  • Production involves significant damage to local
    communities and the environment and harms men,
    women and children

107
Conclusions
  • Production supports human rights abuses, armed
    conflict, and even terrorism
  • Symbols of love should not be constant reminders
    of death and destruction
  • Consider alternative symbols of love
  • Work for social justice and change

108
Paper/References
  • Donohoe MT. Flowers, diamonds, and gold The
    destructive human rights and environmental
    consequences of symbols of love. Human Rights
    Quarterly 2008 (February, in press).
  • http//www.publichealthandsocialjustice.org
  • http//www.phsj.org
  • martindonohoe_at_phsj.org

109
Chocolate
  • Child Slavery
  • Unfair Labor Practices
  • Only 1 of the 13 billion U.S. chocolate market
    is fair trade
  • Buy fair trade chocolate
  • Eliminates middlemen, certified by Fairtrade
    Labeling Organization International, which
    conducts annual inspections for unethical
    practices
  • E.g., Divine Chocolate, made by London-based Day
    Chocolate Company
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