Business Forum: Modern slavery in food and agriculture

What question/s should we ask about modern slavery?

Much of our industrial food systems depend on (often) faceless food and agricultural supply chains. The people behind our food deserve to be treated fairly, but sometimes aren’t and sometimes are invisible to all but a few. Worse still, millions of people worldwide are victims of modern slavery, including many within the UK and some within the supply chains of products consumed in the UK. Food, agriculture and fishing are sectors where there is a risk of vulnerable people being mistreated and hence the existence of modern slavery.

As the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) notes, “(people of all ages)… and backgrounds are victims of human trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude or debt bondage.” In its words, modern slavery is a serious violation of human rights.

The food we eat has both an environmental and a social footprint. In some cases, we are in effect eating human suffering. There should be no place for slavery in the modern world, indeed slavery in the past can not be justified either.

The UK government and major agri-food businesses have put some measures in place to try to prevent modern slavery, but do they go far enough? Who can we in the UK learn from? What else needs to happen to eradicate modern day slavery from food and agriculture? What can those in the UK do to push slavery and forced labour out of food value chains globally?

This in-person dinner meeting in central London will provide an opportunity for participants to:

  • Understand more about the prevalence of, and causes of, modern slavery in food & agricultural value chains
  • Consider which businesses and countries are tackling modern slavery most effectively and what the UK agri-food sector and UK government can learn from them
  • Reflect on slavery, forced labour and racial injustice in the past and the present, and what needs to happen to heal those injustices going forward
  • Decide what is the critical question that those working in agri-food businesses should be asking about modern slavery (to explore in a subsequent ONLINE discussion at 7pm on 6th Feb).

Speakers will be Elysia McCaffrey, Chief Executive of the GLAA, Mike Gidney, Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation and Kate Roberts, Head of Policy at Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX).


23rd January 2024
4:45 - 8:30 pm


St Luke's Community Centre
Central Street

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