Ban Sale of Food Produced by Slaves

Thai fisherman

Target: David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Goal: Demand that the nation’s leaders ban the sale of food produced by slaves

Supermarket shoppers may be supporting the slave trade without even realizing it. News outlet the Guardian conducted a six-month investigation into Thailand’s fishing industry, the main supplier of prawns consumed in the United States and the United Kingdom. What investigators found has spurred lawmakers to propose a bill that would ban the sale of food produced by slaves.

Migrant workers make up the majority of Thailand’s seafood industry slave trade. These immigrants cross the Thai and Burmese borders looking for jobs and are often tricked by brokers claiming to have easy work. When they meet with their new employers the workers are often forced into vans and driven away in the dead of night. Once loaded onto fishing boats they will spend 20 to 22 hours a day hauling nets with only one plate of rice to eat a day. Many don’t see land for years. The fish are sold to Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, which in turn sells them to retailers like Walmart, Tesco and Costco or else grinds them up for fish meal.

Slaves face a brutal life out at sea. Those who rebel against their captains are publicly punished to set an example. One such slave had his limbs tied to four different boats and died when his body was literally pulled apart. Another was beaten and then shot in the head, his body thrown into the ocean. Some slaves do try to escape, and many others take their own lives. One slave whose freedom was bought by a charity organization did not believe he was truly free, since he was originally tricked into becoming a slave.

This kind of business is by no means ethical. Officials in the United Kingdom are considering legislation which would ban the sale of slave-produced food. Failure to do so calls into question their commitment to human rights. Urge the Prime Minister to ensure this bill is made into law.


Dear Prime Minister Cameron,

Recently the Guardian published an article about the fishing industry in Thailand. What they found was both shocking and worrisome. Much of the fishing industry in Thailand is supported by slave labor. Largely migrant workers hoping to find a better life for themselves and their families, these poor people were instead tricked by brokers and whisked away by slavers. This unethical practice must stop, and one way to stop it is to eliminate demand for slave-produced food.

Human trafficking is beyond cruel and unethical and you should do all you can to prevent it. I understand that the government of the United Kingdom has drafted a bill that would ban the sale of slave-produced food in supermarkets. I urge you to ensure that this bill is promptly passed, rather than depending on consumers to research products and their true cost.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Blue Plover via Wikimedia Commons

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