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#1314: More on Grand Marnier orange worker appeal : Arthur comments

From: Charles Arthur <charlesarthur@hotmail.com>

A list member has contacted me to ask if the discomfort suffered by the 
workers who peel the oranges for Grand Marnier on the plantation in northern 
Haiti is caused by pesticides sprayed on the fruit.

The answer to this question is contained within a conversation I had with a 
representative of the Haitian company, Hans Broder Schutt (also involved in 
the export of dried orange peel to Europe) in March 1998, reveals a lot.

I asked the Schutt representative why there was a demand for orange peel 
from Haiti when there are so many sources closer to Europe - I was thinking 
of Spain, Morocco, Cyprus, Israel, etc. Surely, I suggested, it would be 
more economic to import the orange peels from one of these sources.

She replied that there are two reasons why Marnier-Lapostelle wants orange 
peels from Haiti rather than somewhere else.

One, the physical task of peeling oranges is time-consuming, it is 
labour-intensive. Therefore, wage costs can be high. Haiti is preferred 
because there is nowhere in the world that grows oranges where the labour is 
as cheap as Haiti.

The second reason is that Marnier-Lapostelle requires organic orange peel 
for the production of the Grand Marnier liqueur. As the Corbett list member 
pointed out, most orange growers use pesticides, but, you guessed it, not in 
Haiti. The non-use of pesticides is not for environmental nor health 
reasons, but because this (and many other) aspects of the Haitian economy 
are so under-developed that the widespread use of pesticides has not even 

So the pathetically badly paid Haitian orange peelers are suffering not from 
pesticides but from constant exposure, without gloves, or washing 
facilities, to the citric acid from the fruit. I understand the peeling is 
done with some kind of knife, and that workers must peel so many cases of 
oranges each day in order to make anything like a reasonable wage that cuts 
to the hands are common. Imagine the orange juice getting into a cut on the 

While I have your attention, many people have emailed Marnier-Lapostelle in 
response to the urgent appeal in solidarity with the plantation workers. The 
Haiti Support Group has already received a reply from Marnier-Lapostelle 
denying that the situation on the plantation is anything to them. They say 
everything is up to Novella. Veterans of the Disney campaign will recognise 
this tactic.

Marnier-Lapostell has though been good enough to provide us with a differnt 
email name and contact, and should you want to pursue the matter further, or 
even send a message for the first time, we are advised that the correct 
destination is:
Mr François de Gasperis
CEO of Human Resources


Charles Arthur
for the Haiti Support Group

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