“Today’s neo-Puritan activists fear that someone, somewhere, may be enjoying … a plate of shrimp,” warns columnist Neil Hrab. “And, like the puritans of yesteryear, they see grave danger in allowing people this simple pleasure.” The usual suspects — groups like Greenpeace, Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen, and the Environmental Justice Foundation — are now pushing a boatload of trumped up scares on issues ranging from the environment to human rights, but with only shrimp-sized evidence to back them up. Aside from seafood lovers, their victims include the Third World farmers whose shrimp earns much needed income.
As we noted in April, Public Citizen is miffed that shrimp has become “affordable to hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide.” But despite the passionate anti-shrimp rhetoric, a spokesperson for the group admitted to the Mobile Register that there “is no evidence ‘that people have developed any problems’ from eating farm-raised shrimp.” Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a number of other groups have also formed the misnamed “Seafood Choices Alliance” — a holier-than-thou coalition of fear-mongers intent on dictating their food choices to the rest us. This enlightened coalition wants us to stop eating shrimp. Period.
This gang of activists is willing to impose great harm on farmers in developing countries, who produce a healthy portion of the 1 billion pounds of shrimp Americans consume annually. Shrimp farming, Hrab argues, helps “give marginal communities in poor countries a chance to participate in the global economy by producing something that can be sold to Western consumers …[and] providing a dependable source of food for all the people in the region.” As Hrab concludes: “Shrimp farming for export to the West represents one way for people in poor countries to build wealth and start themselves on the road to prosperity.”