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Here is a response from Rainforest Alliance: http://organicconsumers.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=2846

Hi, I work for Unilever, a multinational company that works with both Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance. I have been closely involved in the launch of some of our products that were certified by either FT or RA. I am writing this in a private capcity though.

This article is not helpful since it is badly researched and biased. It contains several factual errors about both FT and RA.

Justin failed to mention that both FT and RA are members of ISEAL-( http://www.isealalliance.org ) which is the de facto gold standard for certification schemes. ISEAL has strict guidelines for the creation fo standards, using stakeholder involvement.

FT and RA have different objectives. Both schemes have their strengths and weaknesses. They’re complimentary, and both further sustainable development, but in different ways. To say one is better than the other is like saying apples are better than oranges.

Unfortunately some people see certification schemes as a zero-sum game- if RA wins then FT loses. This is doing a disservice to both schemes. The reality is that we shouldn’t focus on the difference between RA and FT. We should focus on the difference between certified and non-certified goods. If only one consumer buys a non-certified product instead of an RA certified product as a result of this article then that is a loss for sustainable development as a whole.

And I would have said exactly the same thing if the article had been written pro RA and contra FT.

Many thanks for the clarification. I also had wondered about the accuracy of these "certifications". In a related area of concern, that of eco-conscious lodging, while some "green-washing" does take place, there are increasing sources for reliable verification with the advent of websites specific to that purpose.

One such dedicated "Green" web site, iStayGreen.org, is helping to make environmentally friendly lodging easy to find and book. iStayGreen.org is currently the most frequented online booking site for "Green" lodging (http://www.istaygreen.org). Over 3,500 of the properties listed are environmentally friendly and have been awarded the Green Eco-Leaf Rating.

The eco initiatives of the property are listed clearly, and users are encouraged to contribute "Green" Reviews and environmentally rate the hotels they visit.

It's like Tripadvisor - Facebook - Travelocity all together in one site for the environmentally conscious traveler.

Thanks for the article! I have often wondered about the legitimacy of such labels. It seems to me that the surest way to guarantee that these types of certifications are effective is by setting up independent monitors that can make sure they are actually doing their job and delivering products produced by workers who enjoy all the basic rights to which they are entitled. I was pleased to see that workers are involved in the process for setting standards with Fair Trade, and would be curious to know the logistics of this participation.

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