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Wednesday, April 25,2012

Cheap Shrimp, Funded by Human Trafficking and Environmental Destruction

Forget cheeseburgers and French fries—the new American meal of choice is shrimp. American shrimp consumption has increased by more than 300 percent since 1980 [PDF]. Jumbo-sized bags of the crustaceans fill supermarket freezers from New York City to Norfolk, Arkansas. Shrimp used to only appear on the menus of upscale restaurants. Now, chains like Red Lobster, Popeye’s, and Long John Silver’s offer up shrimp dishes for as little as $5.99.

It’s hard to say no to some scampi when crustaceans cost little more than pocket change. But hidden costs lurk in those discounted bags of shrimp—in the form of environmental destruction and human trafficking.

Most shrimp consumed in the U.S. doesn’t come from American waters. In fact, about 90 percent of it originates at farms in Thailand, Vietnam, South America, and China. Using aquaculture to mass-produce the crustaceans has dropped prices to all-time lows, but increasing evidence suggests that the savings to consumers are fueled by human rights abuses and environmental disasters at shrimp farms.


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