August, 2010 | Food & Water Watch
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Blog Posts: August 2010

August 31st, 2010

Consumer Rights Not Included

Occasionally, someone makes a PR gaffe so blatantly off-target that it would be downright funny—if it weren’t such an important consumer right-to- know issue.

AquaBounty Technologies—a name that conjures up images of fresh, wholesome seafood swimming straight to your plate—is the company behind AquaAdvantage genetically engineered (GE) salmon, coming soon to an FDA approval process near you. We call them FrankenFish or Arnold Schwarzensalmon. Included in their very own website is a statement that breaks one of the most important rules of sensible business practice: make the customer feel important. Read the full article…

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August 27th, 2010

Ranchers Drive Cattle While Meatpackers Drive Up Prices

500 independent ranchers, farmers, meatpacking workers, consumers, urban farmers and food justice activists gather at a public forum in Colorado on the eve of the DOJ and USDA joint hearing on fair competition in the meat industry.

The American Meat Institute (AMI) thinks that everything is just fine in the meat industry. They represent the biggest meat packers and processors—the ones who have consolidated the meatpacking industry into a market dominated by four firms that exercise tremendous leverage over independent cattle producers. The few companies in control of the market insist that there is nothing wrong.

But, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder were in Fort Collins, Colorado last week, listening to the testimonies of independent ranchers who have been struggling to get fair prices for their cattle from the meat packer monopolies. If nothing is wrong in the meat industry, why would these top U.S. officials travel to the Mountain State to listen to the concerns of ranchers and small farmers at a joint hearing about restoring competition? And why would the groups like the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) and Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF), who represent independent cattle producers, rally thousands of people to attend the hearings? Read the full article…

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August 26th, 2010

Would Sludge by Any Other Name Smell Like a Rose?

Names can be powerful. They conjure up images of people and places, smells and textures. What do you think of when you see the word rose? Most likely, you see a beautiful, red flower and you can imagine a familiar and pleasant fragrance. You know what a rose is.

What about the word sludge? I think of human waste, grease, and other types of filth. I’ll spare you from a description of the odor.

But, what about, “biosolids?” The term sounds clinical or biological like something that comes from a lab in pellet form. If I’m not sure what biosolids are, I can at least be certain that they are different from sludge… right? Wrong. Read the full article…

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August 25th, 2010

A Must-Have for Seafood Lovers

The 2010 Smart Seafood Guide is the only current guide that addresses sustainability, food safety and socio-economic impact of different kinds of seafood. Its release comes at a critical time, when the safety of seafood from the Gulf is in question.

All right, seafood lovers… pay attention. Most of you, on average, eat approximately 16 pounds of seafood each year, 4 of which is shrimp. Most of you want safe, sustainable seafood, and you’re probably aware that there are many things to consider.

Consumers need a resource that addresses factors, such as sustainability, food safety, and the socio-economic impact of many different kinds of seafood; the 2010 Smart Seafood Guide will help you navigate those waters. Read the full article…

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August 23rd, 2010

CNN Goes Consolidated Egg Shopping

CNN's Brian Todd interviews our own Patty Lovera, food director, about how food contamination—like the Wright Egg salmonella outbreak—can spread so quickly. None of the eggs in the background were affected by the recall.

The Wright County Egg recall has continued to raise interesting questions about food safety issues across our industrial food system. Various news stations have been contacting our offices for the past week to ask how food contamination can spread so quickly across the country. CNN’s Brian Todd asked our food director, Patty Lovera, to meet him at a grocery store just outside of downtown Washington, D.C., to discuss the recall (we’ll provide the link as soon as the story airs), so I tagged along. Read the full article…

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August 19th, 2010

A Bad Egg for Every American?

Investigations into a multi-state outbreak of salmonella have triggered a major recall of eggs involving 17 states and 380 million eggs—that's one bad egg per person in the United States.

By now, many of us have developed an unnatural but necessary fear of French toast, cake, omelets, egg salad sandwiches and more. Investigations into a multi-state outbreak of salmonella have triggered a major recall of eggs involving 17 states and 380 million eggs (one egg per person in the United States, plus several omelets), and those numbers could continue to grow. The affected eggs were packaged as far back as mid-May—an entire season ago. Read the full article…

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Kanye, “Say You Will” Take Back the Tap!

The champions of the tap vs. the outlaws of bottled water: TMZ should show how appealing it is when celebrities drink from the tap.

It’s August, so maybe there’s not much going on in the big city. Perhaps that’s why rapper Kanye West found himself tweeting about drinking New York City tap water last week. TMZ felt it was newsworthy in some way, so they mentioned the tweet on their website. It must have seemed trivial to some readers, so they expressed their dismay at how boring the tweet was. Since Kanye’s tweet about NYC tap is the kind of thing we like to hear, I found myself typing the URL for TMZ into my web browser to find out more. TMZ merely showed the contents of what Kanye tweeted—not much worth mentioning… until I noticed one particular photo-montage on their home page. Read the full article…

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August 16th, 2010

Fair Food or Bust!

We’ve finally reached the end of the road, and it’s been a blast! But before we sign off, there are a few more updates to give—starting with the Iowa State Fair last Thursday. With a herd of cow-suited groupies in tow I bought a $10 ticket for “Non-Stop Fun” (the appropriately-chosen theme of the Iowa State Fair this year). Although The Iowa State Fair is not the largest in the U.S. (that honor goes to Texas or Minnesota depending on whether you are talking about over all attendance or daily attendance, respectively) it is the largest state fair I have ever been to. It was also the hottest day of my life. We received a lot of support when we stopped by the milking barn where the dairy cows reside. The people there were very supportive and listened intently about the Department of Justice hearings. These hearings could really improve the way dairy farmers are able to do business. It’s so important to demonstrate public support for fair markets for farmers, so thanks to everyone who has signed our petition along the way. Read the full article…

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A Cheese Sandwich to Save the Heartland, But Not the Heart

This week, we learned of the latest chain restaurant contrivance to challenge waistband technology: Denny’s has created a mammoth morsel of a cholesterol-rocketing, fat-flapping mistake of a meal. Ladies and gentlemen, Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt Sandwich is not the answer, regardless of the question. Read the full article…

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August 13th, 2010

The Not-So-Green Ocean Vacuum Machines

A series of innovations in the realm of ocean fish farming are being promoted as “eco-friendly,” but existing technology can’t prevent pollution, escapes of farmed fish into the wild and other serious health and safety concerns associated with factory fish farms.

One new item is a fish farming cage called the AquaGrid, introduced by a Malaysian tilapia company who claims their net pen can reduce escapes of confined fish and limit predation of these fish by nearby marine wildlife. Their design features an innovative “new LiftUP® Mortality Retrieval System”—a euphemistic title that tries to hide that what they’ve really invented is a dead fish vacuum under the pen. Read the full article…

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