‘Fair Trade’ iPhones?

iPhonesFair Trade labels, are an increasingly a common sight on food stuffs like coffee, bananas, sugar, tea and chocolate. While the labeling system is an imperfect mediator to global disparity and injustice, it does help traditional farmers moderate their standard of living. However, given the complex and multiple processes involved in the production of new technologies like phones, mp3 players, and laptops — is ‘fair trade’ technology even possible? Reports Ryan Huang on ZDNet Asia:

There may be a market for more ethically sourced and produced electronics driven by the increased public scrutiny and awareness over labor issues and related concerns over the sector, say industry observers. However, some express reservations over the feasibility of implementing a fair trade model in the industry.

The electronics manufacturing industry came under the spotlight following a series of suicides involving Foxconn workers in a Chinese factory, which manufactures devices for major brands such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Samsung. This brought up allegations of poor workplace conditions, where employees were overworked and underpaid.

There has also been growing concerns over whether materials used in the sector have been ethically sourced. Non-governmental organization (NGO) Enough Project, for one, explained that armed groups in eastern Congo earned hundreds of millions of dollars every year through trading what has been dubbed “conflict minerals”. “These minerals are in all our electronics devices …

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