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article imageLow US, UK and EU seafood prices linked to Asian slave labor

By Walter McDaniel     Jun 11, 2014 in Food
The extremely low seafood prices that many of us pay are due to human trafficking and brutal forced labor. The multibillion-dollar prawn industry in Thailand deals in human lives almost as much as it deals in seafood.
Authorities have long known about the human trafficking problems in Thailand. We know very well about the slavery many women are forced into. However a new documentary and story by the Guardian has revealed the extent that men are also treated as less than human.
The process starts when a man is taken through either violence or trickery (promises of a better life, etc) into a brutal organization. Brokers make incredible money off the labor that these men can provide.
Their average day includes a massive work schedule that can include 22 hours. During their rest period they have a miniscule portion of rice and any dissent is met with brutal force. Some of them are viciously tortured to serve as an example for others with mutilation and other forms of torture being common. Many of those caught in this cycle turn to suicide. With no hope for the future and a brutal life it is not surprising.
The reason many of us are guilty of benefiting from this practice. A huge company known as CP Foods supplies fish food made from many of these prawns. Additionally they sell some directly and give them to distributors. Huge names including Aldi, Walmart, Morrisons and even Costco have been a part of this cycle. If you have eaten seafood in a first-world country then you have very likely become a part of this as well. It is unfortunate, saddening and true.
Corruption problems in the government lead to this problem still occurring to this very day. Some corrupt officials even help brokers get more slaves. Those who escape may be captured again by the same or another slaver.
The big companies believe that they are paying legitimate dealers for the product and do not look far beyond that. Each of these companies has denounced the slavery but they have done little beyond that.
They do cursory inspections but none of them go deep enough to catch the huge numbers of small brokers. There is a small light of hope though. The United States may soon rate them in the most severe tier of human trafficking alongside North Korea. Economic sanctions will likely follow for the government if this happens.
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