Wal-Mart environmental practices changing shrimp farming in Thailand

Latest practice impacted by omnipresent Wal-Mart: Thai shrimp farming. Crustacean aquaculture, long demonized for destroying mangrove trees and polluting waterways, is the focus of new standards penned by the Global Aquaculture Alliance and backed by Wal-Mart, Red Lobster, and other big seafood purveyors. To make the grade for Wal-Mart — the U.S.’s biggest single shrimp buyer — farmers must improve water testing, treat discharge, discontinue antibiotic use, and plant three times as many mangroves as they chop down. As with all Wal-moves, there’s controversy: around 80 percent of shrimp farms in Thailand — the largest exporter of shrimp to the U.S., sending $1.28 billion worth of the delicacy to the states each year — are so small they lack the resources to operate under the new standards. But when one huge Wal-Mart supplier bought and upgraded some 150 farms, it raised an outcry about consolidation. Don’t worry, shrimpers — we at Wal-Grist are here to tell you there’s nothing to fear.