Wheels falling off ethical bandwagon

You can barely open a magazine today without seeing an advert illustrated by a photo of a smiling black grower whose life has apparently been improved immeasurably by the intervention of an enlightened British food company. 
The more I see, the less I like them. The implicit subtext is: "Altruis­tic white man comes to aid of needy Third World." This heartwarming storyline makes no refe­rence to how rapacious colo­nial exploita­tation lies at the root of many &'struggling&' countries&' problems. And it ignores how iniquitous global trade rules and the activities of transnational corporations perpe­tuate global poverty to this day.
Naturally, the purpose of such ­adverts is to boost profits by making consumers feel good about buying the product. But it also ­allows big companies to cherry-pick one of their activities that casts them in a good light to put an ­ethical halo around the entire business. 
No wonder big food industry players are queuing to take over, or invest in, small, ethical companies. Cadbury acquired organic chocolate brand, Green & Black&'s. Then jaws dropped in non-government organi­sation circles when the Fairtrade Foundation awarded its prestigious mark to Nestlé&'s Partner&'s Blend coffee. Nestlé is no stranger to ethical boycotts and Partner&'s Blend repre­sents less than one per cent of its coffee portfolio. Nestlé doubtless expects to further improve its ethi­cal profile with its stake in Divine and Dubble Fairtrade chocolate.
But consumers are more sophisticated than that. Since its take­over by Cadbury, the ethical rating of Green & Black&'s among consumers has dropped from 16 out of 20 to six.
Meanwhile, an alliance of 120 non-governmental organisations is demanding amendments to the Company Law Reform Bill, cur­rently before parliament, which would ­require companies to mini­mise signi­ficant damage to ­workers, communities and the environment, and enable people overseas who are harmed by UK companies to take ­action in a British court.
And guess what ? The Confederation of British Industry is already lobbying against the amendments. It is defending the ­status quo whereby companies are free to promote a highly selective, self-serving, flattering ­image of their activities, free from any ­rigorous indepen­dent scrutiny. Nice try, but I&'m thinking consumers won&'t let them get away with it.