Blogs | Food & Water Watch - Part 108
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February 4th, 2010

"Fragrance" or Foe?

The cosmetics industry is a lightly-regulated, moneymaking machine. It encourages women to buy products to look better, thinner, tanner, softer, and generally more ‚attractive”. Unfortunately, these products are filled-to-the-brim with chemicals. We know some of these chemicals are harmful. That‚ bad enough, but even more frightening is that many chemicals or formulations do not have to be disclosed because they are considered ‚trade secrets.” Such is the case with the ingredient listed as ‚fragrance.”

Fragrance is rarely made up of just one chemical. It‚ a veritable toxic soup of many. In an attempt to demonstrate transparency, the European Union‚ International Fragrance Association (IFRA) just released 3,163 chemicals that were used in fragrance formulations in 2008. Read the full article…

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February 2nd, 2010

Farmed Blue fin tuna awash in San Diego

Ironically, as blue fin tuna populations have dropped dramatically around the world, Imperial Beach in San Diego was unexpectedly awash with them last week as “disoriented” fish struggled in the surf and some were beached on the shore.

Blue fin tuna are prized by sport fishermen and high-end sushi restaurants in Japan and the United States. A 35 pound individual can net up to $5,000 on the market and some adults weigh hundreds of pounds. But despite the fish‚ popularity and a shared directional deficiency with Zoolander , the blue fin does not lead a glamorous life. Read the full article…

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January 29th, 2010

The Real Farmville

Farmville, the virtual farming game on, has recently become an online phenomenon with millions of active players. The game portrays an idyllic farming community where players can create small, personalized farms with options to harvest anything from tomatoes to Clydesdales (for horse hair).  They also have the ability to send messages and assist in the maintenance of a friend’s farm, which adds the extra appeal of social networking.

With the current consolidation of the industry by large factory farming corporations, could this perpetuation of the small farm ideal actually be detracting from some real issues? What would it look like if Farmville portrayed the real problems facing small to medium organic farming operations?

Perhaps, Joe farmer would log on to harvest his crops, say half a field of delicious looking strawberries. He clicks on a few plots to sell his bounty when, abruptly, a message pops up to inform him that there is no one to buy his strawberries. “Sorry, Farmer Joe, but due to current labor and international trade laws, foreign growers are able to pay their workers a mere fraction of minimum wage and import strawberries at half your price.” Flabbergasted and frustrated Joe farmer moves on. Read the full article…

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January 28th, 2010

Turning Trash into More Trash

The bottled water industry tries very hard to convince consumers that buying their product is fine, because all those empty bottles are recyclable. What they don’t address is exactly what plastic bottle recycling often entails.

Check out this video from National Geographic for a closer look at the process plastic bottles go through in order to produce polyester clothing in China.

As the video shows us, plastic bottles are collected in various locations, like here in the US, or over in Europe. Then, the plastic bottles are shredded up, packaged in cellophane, boxed up into giant presents of plastic goodness (a valuable commodity, of course) and sent on a 7,000-mile trip to China. The plastic then goes through an unimaginably complex process involving boiling, rotating, drying, melting, spinning, bonding, tearing, packaging, scraping, threading, weaving, looping, and brushing until the polyester textile is made. But never fear, the stylists are very economical while cutting out the templates prior to the polyester being sewn–they wont create anymore waste than necessary. Phew! Read the full article…

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January 27th, 2010

Target Hits the Mark with a Phase-out on Farmed Salmon!

With an overload of sketchy news stories about corporations trying to control our food and water resources, pieces of good news on food safety can seem few and far between. But today, there is great news , the ever-popular Target has eliminated farmed salmon from its more than 1,700 stores across the United States. All sushi containing farmed salmon will be phased out by the end of this year. In its place, theyll be offering wild Alaskan salmon. Read the full article…

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January 20th, 2010

Most smoke "flavorings" are toxic

Here‚ some unfortunate news about the smoked seafood you may be eating. If it’s not actually being smoked over a fire, the “flavor of smoke” you taste probably comes from a chemical‚ and it might be toxic.

This month, the European Food Safety Authority released a report reviewing 11 common “smoke flavorings” that are used in place of traditional smoking techniques for seafood. Their conclusion: only two of the 11 were non-toxic. Eight of the flavorings posed some health concern; one of these eight had the potential for genotoxicity, or damage to the genetic material of cells. (One didn’t have enough data for assessment.) Read the full article…

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Gates Foundation, Great Frustration

The Gates Foundation‚ new pick for the head of the foundation‚ agricultural development program, Sam Dryden , the gene-slinging, globe-trotting biotechnology pioneer , is nothing less than a public declaration of what many of us long suspected: the Gates Foundation‚ billion-dollar agricultural development effort, mainly focused in Africa, is being rooted in the shallow and infertile promises of genetically modified crops.

Having already plowed enormous sums of money into biotechnology as a tool for agricultural development, the Gates Foundation appointment of Dryden bolsters the organization‚ longstanding tacit endorsement of genetically modified agriculture as the solution to world hunger. Read the full article…

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January 14th, 2010

Contaminated Fountain Beverages

My name is Daniel Cooper and I have recently joined the Food & Water Watch food team as an intern. I will be posting weekly blogs on pertinent food issues that affect us all. One such issue involves serious food safety concerns with fast food restaurants (as if you needed another reason to stay away from fast food restaurants). This time the spotlight is not on the burgers or chicken nuggets – it‚ on the beverages.

A study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology found an alarming percentage of microbial contamination in the soda from fountain dispensers in fast food restaurants. Among the more shocking findings, 48% of the beverages tested were found to contain coliform bacteria, a bacteria most commonly originating from the feces of warm-blooded animals! Read the full article…

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January 11th, 2010

Private Water Investments Awash in Controversy

At the start of each new year, investment advisors are busy telling clients where to invest their money. Despite the weak economy, this year is no different.

Morgan Stanley just released its global investment “10 Investment Ideas for 2010″. Number five on that list? Water. Read the full article…

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January 8th, 2010

Melamine in Chinese milk…here we go again

The recent revelation that China has once again hidden a major food safety incident involving melamine in dairy products for over a year clearly demonstrates that its food safety system cannot be trusted.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains a staff in China to monitor the safety of food, drugs and medical devices produced in that country that are destined for export to the U.S. On January 7, Food & Water Watch asked top agency officials what FDA staff in China knew about this latest incident and when they knew about it. We are anxious to hear their reply. China would like to increase its food exports to the U.S. Among the food items they would like to export is processed poultry. Congress has blocked previous attempts by the United States Department of Agriculture to permit such exports. It appears to us that the ban needs to continue until China has a food safety system that clearly works and is fully transparent.

,Tony Corbo

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