"Fair Trade was established to enable producers to improve their livelihoods and communities through trading with buyers whose behaviour was governed by an agreed set of principles. Over time though there, has been an unfortunate change of emphasis whereby it is now the producers (artisans and farmers) whose actions are under the microscope rather than the buying organizations. In effect, the certification systems have changed Fair Trade to such an extent that sales of products are the main measure of success instead of the welfare of producers. The WFTO believes the interests of producers, especially small farmers and artisans, should be the main focus in all the policies, governance, structures and decision making within the Fair Trade movement."says the World Fair Trade Organisation
and it is probably true. And unfortunately I believe that most of the systems for environmental or social labeling end up like that. Not because of that the people managing them are bad, and also not really because they are taken over by "big business". No, it is just the "natural" logic of the market place to work like that.
I have written about these things before
What gives value to an ecolabel
and sometimes the system just become self-serving and inward looking
How quality Management can result in low quality...
My point is not that we should stop buying eco labeled or fair trade products, but that we need to have a lot more critical view on them and constantly watch where they are going.