In addition to the chocolate and make-up industries – as discussed in the April 11th blog post – many other industries make millions, if not billions, of dollars from the production of commodities using forced labor throughout the supply chain.
This June, The Guardian newspaper released an article exposing the modern-day slavery used to procure shrimp for major grocery stores in the U.S. and around the world (Hodal, Kelly & Lawrence, 2014). Shrimp is only one of many products sold cheaply to consumers at the expense of exploited and trafficked laborers. Worldwide the use of labor trafficking or forced labor results in an estimated $51 billion of profits annually (International Labor Organization, 2014). The United States is the largest importer of goods in the world but, despite this, there is little transparency of the supply chains that major companies use to move their products from production to our shelves.
While completing my undergraduate degree in social work at SUNY Brockport I was fortunate to study under policy workers who promote wide scale change for the benefit of vulnerable populations as well as an expert in sex trafficking. Working with these mentors increased my awareness of human trafficking – an issue I had been vaguely aware of, but largely uninformed about. I, like many others, had considered human trafficking to be an international issue. Because of this misconception I had missed the connection between human trafficking and the large migrant farm worker population in my own hometown of Sodus, NY.