April 26th, 2007
The news has been buzzing recently about the disappearance of millions of honeybees in the United States. Some in the media looked to a small German university study for insight into this ongoing case of colony collapse disorder. They blamed cell phones.
Then came the truth, explains Eric Sylvers in the April 22 edition of the International Herald Tribune. The study had nothing to do with cell phones and didn’t even shed light on the collapse of bee colonies, at least not directly. Instead, it delved into how electromagnetic fields and cordless phones might affect the learning ability of bees.
In fact, one of the study‚ co-authors told Sylvers that herbicides, insecticides and genetically modified crops harm bees much more than cordless phones do. See the New York Times for more.
But not only are bees disappearing, so are beekeepers.
Food & Water Watch reported in 2006 in our Crops in Crisis series that transnational agribusiness is flooding the U.S. market with lots of cheap Argentine and Chinese honey, which is putting beekeepers here out of business. See our Crops in Crisis profile.
Thanks to Sierra Club Compass for drawing our attention to the Herald Tribune article.
April 25th, 2007
Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water, by Alan Snitow, Deborah Kaufman, and Michael Fox, hit the bookshelves on World Water Day, March 22. The filmmakers who brought us the acclaimed documentary Thirst have written a new book that tells the stories of eight U.S. communities challenging corporate control of their water. And please join us in welcoming Alan Snitow, one of Thirst‚ authors, to the board of Food & Water Watch. Alan is an accomplished journalist, filmmaker, author, and water activist. We look forward to working with Alan to strengthen our movement for local democratic control of water.
Read more Water for All campaign news in the latest issue of Currents!
April 20th, 2007
Most shrimp consumed in the United States is imported from East Asia and Latin America, where it was raised in industrial shrimp farms. If you are reading this, you are probably at least familiar with some of the environmental and social devastation caused by these operations.
We were sadly reminded of this devastation recently when security guards at Acqua Clara shrimp farm in Brazil murdered Francisco Cordeiro da Rocha. It is quite clear that industrial shrimp farming has yet to evolve from the violence that has taken so many innocent lives over the years.
On April 9th, Francisco and his friend Vilson Oliveira do Carmo had gone out to hunt waterfowl nearby the shrimp farm, a traditional activity in the region. When Francisco entered the shrimp farm to take a detour around an area too muddy to walk through, security guards shot him immediately. Then guards shot at Vilson, but thankfully he was able to escape.
Community members present during an interview a few days later told about the horrors they have experienced at the hands of Acqua Clara. These include difficulty in obtaining information on the case, the violence towards the farm‚ employees, the environmental destruction caused by the farm, and the poor working conditions.
This tragedy reminds us of the true costs of consuming cheap, imported shrimp. Its production comes at the expense of the environment and communities, and on a sad day this April, it cost Francisco Cordeiro da Rocha his life.
April 19th, 2007
Stephen Colbert, satirist, prankster, and lover of ice cream, recently featured recombinant bovine growth hormone on his hit show, The Colbert Report. A staple of Comedy Central‚ lineup, this program spoofs the media talking heads and takes a humorous look at the latest news. Food & Water Watch, and other consumer groups, had been hearing rumors that the program was going to feature rBGH, and last night the segment aired!
Check out the video, entitled Milk & Hormones. If you don’t blink, you can see footage from one of our protests outside of Starbucks, where FWW staff and volunteers are dressed as cows. (If you cant find the segment, look under “Videos” and then “Most Recent” on the sidebar.) This piece is yet more evidence that the general public is concerned about hormones in milk, and their effect on cows, milk quality, and human health.
Lets win this fight against this harmful hormone! Find your rBGH-free dairy products here.
April 18th, 2007
The Food and Drug Administration approved a bird flu vaccination yesterday, making it the first federally approved vaccine for protecting humans against the H5N1 influenza virus. The government is currently stockpiling enough of the Sanofi Aventis vaccine for 20 million people that will NOT be commercially available.
“The threat of an influenza pandemic is, at present, one of the most significant public health issues our nation and world faces,” FDA commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach said. Unfortunately, clinical trials show that the vaccine protects just 45 percent of adults who received the highest dose.
Another problem is that the vaccine must be administered in two doses separated by a 30-day period.
“You’d like to respond to a pandemic quicker than that and ideally you’d like a vaccine where you had one dose and would need less antigen.” Norman Baylor, director of the FDA’s vaccine office, told reporters.
So the verdict is, (drum roll please), it‚ ‚better than nothing.” Ah yes, a mantra to live by.
April 16th, 2007
Marin County California has a dilemma. You see, the Marin Water District was recently the first in the nation to commit to a global warming pollution reduction goal. The district will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent from 1990 levels (or 20 percent below current levels) by 2020, mostly by implementing energy efficiency measures and switching to renewable energy.‚Good for them,” you say. ‚But what‚ the dilemma.” Well, Marin County has been considering a proposal to build a salt water desalination plant. Desalination is wildly energy intensive. The already controversial plant, which will cost at least $111 million, could more than triple the water district‚ energy use.
‚The desalination plant’s use of energy could be equivalent to 60,000 service connections, or customers, continuously burning a 100-watt light bulb around the clock, every day, consultants estimated.” , Marin Independent Journal
It‚ way past ironic that cities concerned about drinking water shortages in drought, which may be worsened by global warming, are even considering technologies like desalination, whose emissions could make global warming worse. It‚ especially outrageous in Marin which is also concerned that sea level rise could inundated its coast (right).
April 13th, 2007
Anne fights the good fight to make sure we have healthy fish, oceans, and coastal communities.
Her love for the sea was realized shortly after college when she joined her father for a fishing trip to Alaska. As the years went on, Anne fished salmon and also returned to fish with her father many times as her grew older.
In the 1980‚, Anne became president of the Women‚ Maritime Association, where she fought for criminal penalties and reporting procedures in cases of rape and assault at sea. Then, as commercial fishing became increasingly threatened by industrialized salmon production, Anne developed the ‚Go Wild Campaign” to educate consumers about the benefits of wild salmon. She successfully sued for the enforcement of labeling laws, which informed consumers that farmed salmon contained artificial colorants.
Anne currently works in cooperation with commercial, tribal and sport fisherman, and conservationists from around the world to stop industrial fish farming, offshore drilling and open pit mining.
April 11th, 2007
In light of the recent pet food scare, our faithful Food & Water Watch bloggers thought it would be a good time to check in and see how the contestants of the seventh annual Poofier is Better Dog Show feel about the Food and Drug Administration. ‚First they came after us and our children. Now theyre out to get Fido and Fluffy! Where will they stop?” One concerned owner of a champion Great Pyrenees exclaimed. This melodramatic dog-lover is referring to the repeated offenses against food safety that the FDA has overseen in recent months including the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter and E. coli outbreaks in leafy greens, and the approval of food from cloned animals. This list can be topped off by the latest rule allowing irradiated foods to be labeled as pasteurized.
The particular offense that has Fido biting back is how the toxin, melamine, found it‚ way into our best friend‚ food. Oh and cat food, too.
“This is ridiculous! Not only have my peanut butter and anchovy sandwiches lost appeal but now, Princess cant enjoy her favorite tweet, now can you my fwuffy ittle gurrrlllll,” said Martha, the local and allegedly crazy cat lady.
The investigative bloggers of Food & Water watch conclude that the FDA‚ next target is Goldie, the goldfish. This, of course, is completely hearsay since none of us are actually investigators. Has that ever stopped any other blogger?
April 9th, 2007
Big cloning and livestock genetic companies ViaGen, Inc., Cyagra, and stART Licensing are working with the Biotechnology Industry Organization to promote cloning through their new web site. It‚ called CloneSafety.org, and boy is it informative!
For instance, I had always thought that cloning had serious health implications for the animals, with a success rate of live, healthy animals at less than 5%.
As it turns out, “clones are the rock stars of the barnyard, and therefore are treated like royalty.”
Cow rock stars! Being a cow rock star is definitely worth the malformed brains, livers, spleens, lymph nodes and urogenital tracts that cloned cows, sheep and mice have been born with. Internal hemorrhaging, digestive problems, hydrocephalus, and multiple organ failure, which are some of the most common causes of death among cloned animals in the first week of life, would be a small price to pay for stardom!
A 2005 USDA study revealed that cloned pigs had weakened immune systems compared to normal pigs. I bet it was only because they were partying so hard. I mean, rock stars can really wear themselves down!
Thank you Viagen, Cyagra, start Licensing and Biotechnology Industry Organization. I don’t know what the world would do without your safety information and your fancy $170,000 cows.
April 6th, 2007
Ever hear of a futures market? Me neither. Now that I have, I want to
create one for everything. Here‚ how they work so you can use one to
predict when your next hot date will be. Futures markets allow experts in a given field to invest real money in
securities whose payoff depend on where and when a given event will
happen. This system is used to predict hurricanes and to help farmers
decide which crops to plant every season.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is planning to do this for the bird flu.
Experts will be given money to bet on if the deadly bird flu will
infect a human in Hong Kong by July 1. In doing so, public health
officials hope to have an accurate prediction that will help them plan
for an outbreak.
In the meantime, Im planning on using it to predict the next American
Idol winner. Or, better yet, when my mother-in-law will come to visit