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
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?"