Starbucks feels the heat as OCA plans 200-city protest

LITTLE MARAIS, MN: Starbucks will be targeted by protesters in 200

cities over June 25-26, organized by a group called the Organic

Consumers Association (OCA).



The event is scheduled to coincide with related protests organized by

The Ruckus Society outside the Biotechnology Industry Organization's

(BIO) annual meeting. BIO is meeting in San Diego from June 24-27.



At the heart of both protests are concerns about genomics and

genetically modified food. "Under the guise of 'progress,'" reads the

Ruckus Web site, "the biotech juggernaut is furthering its drive for

profits through the privatization of our collective genetic

heritage."



Starbucks has been a target for protests by OCA for 18 months, but a

full scale campaign was launched March 20.



The days of action are the culmination of a letter and e-mail writing

effort by members who say Starbucks does not promote Fair Trade coffee;

has unjust labor practices; and does not guarantee its products do not

contain genetically modified ingredients. Starbucks did not return calls

for comment by press time.



In a gesture of environmental responsibility, Starbucks announced an

organic Shade Grown Mexico coffee at the end of May. The product was

developed with the help of a new entity called The Center for

Environmental Leadership in Business, funded with a dollars 25 million

grant from the Ford Motor Company.



OCA is skeptical of Starbucks' commitment to the environment. "What they

are saying to the media sounds pretty good," said Ronnie Cummins, OCA's

campaign director. "On the other hand, is this just PR or is it a

statement of intent?"



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