Friday 9 March 2012

Pure Apple tainted by a poison

It could be said that the famous Apple logo is a symbol of the current manufacturing dilemma facing this mighty company, the world's biggest by market capitalisation as at March 2012 (over $500 billion).

You know how the Apple logo came about don't you? The partly eaten apple represents the way Alan Mathison Turing is said to have committed suicide by biting on an apple that had been injected with cyanide. Turing, an English scientist, is considered to have been "the father of computer science".  Also the idea of 'biting' fits nicely with computer language - the word 'byte'. This is one reason, perhaps the main reason, why Apple's founders decided on this logo.

It is said that Apple components are manufactured in China and that the manufacturing process is poisoning the local environment so profoundly that the river runs black and people are dying of unexplained cancer.

There is a nice symmetry in the current situation with the origins of the Apple logo. Both entail poisoning. Things have come full circle.

The village that so unhappily finds itself on the doorstep of mass manufacturing using heavy metals and other toxins is Tongxin. It is near the east coast, quite near Shanghai we are told (note: my research shows that there is another town of the same name that is in central China).

Apple have admitted that one of its major suppliers is Pegatron a Taiwanese company. A Chinese subsidiary of Pegatron is a company called Kaedar Electronics.  Zhu Guifen, a 64 year old resident (and shop owner) of Tongxin, points to the Kaedar Electronics factory when she explains why too many people in Tongxin are dying of cancer. She herself suffers from stomach and liver tumours. She is convinced that the high levels of cancer in the village have been caused by pollution from the factories.  At one time she used the local river (the Lou Xia Bang) to wash the rice.  Children swam in it.

In March 2012, the river is dead and the people are dying.

Apple presents a squeaky clean image inline with their sheer products. They say they care about all the workers in their enormous supply chain. They say that they insist that their suppliers use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes. Can we really believe that? And should this story change our perception of Apple?

Apple products are such good value considering the quality and features. Is this because China does not regulate manufacturing sufficiently to protect the environment and its people? We hear lots of stories of discontent of the common man in China who is walked over by unregulated big business and corrupt officials. The Chinese government say they are entitled to pollute the environment for the sake of commercial expediency because they have to catch up with the West and in any case the West polluted and still pollute to keep prices down.

Source: Times Newspaper March 8th 2012 page 32.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly - 'the west polluted and still pollute to keep prices down' ….nothing has changed in other words. It's like a new form of colonisation that doesn't even require going there. It's beyond terrible.


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