A mere 153 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, the US is set to ban the import of goods produced by slaves in other countries. A loophole in the 1930 Tariff Act—which allows the import of goods made by convict, forced, or indentured labor when domestic production doesn't meet demand—will be closed when President Obama signs legislation this week, reports the New York Times. The move, along with a new seafood-tracking initiative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is part of the government's response to reports that much of America's imported seafood is produced by slaves, sometimes child slaves.
The amendment passed the House last year and passed the Senate last week with bipartisan support. "I think most Americans were horrified to learn that the fish in the pet food they give to their cats and dogs was being caught by children forced to work on ships against their will," Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, who co-sponsored the amendment, tells the Times. Beyond seafood, the move is expected to make it easier to fight human rights abuses in industries like the cocoa trade in West Africa. Rights groups can now challenge the use of slave labor without being undermined by "an archaic and outrageous provision of US trade law," a spokesman for amendment co-sponsor Sen. Ron Wyden tells the American Journal of Transportation. (Read more slavery stories.)