Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#115 - 28 Oct 2007

An email newsletter with news and discussion focusing on corporate social responsibility globally, looking at the companies in the news and the emerging issues. Linked to the website at and produced every two weeks.

This web page provides news stories and articles from the newsletters. Newsletters also include links to features on the internet, Mallen's blog, and other resources.

In this issue, we consider the implications of the Soil Association's move to restrict air-freighted produce from its organic certification.


Consumer labels can be important signals that shape buyer behaviour, or they can be confusing and irrelevant. Such questions have been raised in the last week by the action by the UK's Soil Association to alter the basis on which its 'organic' certification is granted. The dilemmas of this decision are explored in our article this time.

In the mean time, we continue to consider ways in which the internet will develop new approaches to support the CSR movement's development. Although the real phenomenon that is revolutionising the web is social networking sites, we have yet to see this approach really make the difference when it comes to corporate executives committed to social responsibility. Busy execs still face the same barriers to participation that they always have - time. They don't surf. They don't browse. And now they don't chat, poke or twitter.

By and large, the web is still used in business as a transaction medium or an information library. Web-based technology may provide tools of the trade, for instance CRedit 360 and the other social responsibility reporting tools. But we are still seeking the variation on the technology that will create the extended community of practitioners around the world who are committed to this as an agenda.

At least we now see more CSR websites using some of the tools to make it easier - newsfeeds, email updates and the like. These are smart tools for the intended target audience since they are about making information available with the minimum time commitment. But there must be more. I would be interested in anyone involved with new developments in the use of the web to create communities of interest around CSR to talk about what they're doing - there is surely the content of a future article there.

Speaking of social networking though, I finally relented to the lure of Facebook a few weeks ago. I had had a few of those email invitations to sign up before, but was surprised enough to get two in one week from people I hadn't seen for 25 years to finally relent. It is a great tool for building personal networks, but for all that there are CSR-related groups on there, it remains underpowered for 'networks with purpose'.

The new vote has gotten underway on the website. The current tally is:
Which of these groups has done the most so far to respond to the challenge of climate change?
Governments 29 (15%)
Business 61 (32%)
Citizens 101 (53%)

Thanks to the 191 people that have voted so far. Still time for you to make your views known, although we won't keep this vote on for too long, I suspect.


Japan: Alico warned over misleading cancer policy ads

The Fair Trade Commission has told American Life Insurance to pull newspaper adverts for a cancer insurance product which it has desscribed as 'misleading'.

US: States lobby for Microsoft anti-trust settlement to be extended

Ten US states have called for an extension of the government oversight of Microsoft agreed as part of its antitrust settlement. Florida, Louisiana, Maryland and New York - which had supported the terms of the original settlement - have joined six others in arguing that the action, due to expire next month, should run through to 2012.

France: Monsanto sues anti GMO activists

Biotechnology giant Monsanto has filed a suit against unidentified activists who, according to the company, destroyed three test sites of genetically modified crops.

Gap takes action over child labour allegations

Gap has said that it takes allegations of child labour in its supply chain "extremely seriously" following an investigation by the UK newspaper the Observer.

BP fined for environmental crimes

BP has been fined $373m by the US government for a number of environmental crimes and fraud. The largest part of the levy relates to price manipulation of propane over which four BP workers were indicted.

US: Action against companies over apartheid reinstated

A federal appeals court has reinstated some of the suits against around 50 companies accused of having supported the apartheid regime in South Africa.


The unnecessary suicide of the organic food movement

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 28 Oct 2007

The UK's Soil Association has announced that it will remove its organic certification from any foods which have been transported by air freight except for those whose production meets Fairtrade requirements. The move has created huge controversy, and with justification.

Previous edition - No 114 | Following edition - No 116

Subscribe Now


The Business Respect email newsletter has been produced since 2001 to give news and commentary on CSR worldwide


See the archive of past issues