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March 13th, 2009

Righteous Porkchop

With a title like Righteous Porkchop, Nicolette Hahn Niman‚ recently released book is hard to miss. Which is a good
thing too, considering how it takes a somewhat difficult topic like factory farms and makes it accessible to a wide audience. The relevance of this book is painfully clear, in an era where factory farms have become the norm. Hahn Niman does more than just profile the megafarms that are causing pollution, as can be seen on our Factory Farms map, but she also tours traditional farms and notes how they run their practices and what makes them both an efficient and safer alternative to factory farms. Read the full article…

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March 12th, 2009

Funniest Newspaper Ever, on Salmonella

We love The Onion.* Don’t you? Does anyone not love The Onion? Check out their latest take on the food safety scandals that have been racking our nation. Of course, Salmonella is no joke, and we definitely don’t want to make light of the suffering of those who’ve been affected or lost loved ones to the outbreak. But when it comes to the almost Kafkaesque level of absurdity that seems to pervade our regulatory system, The Onion just seems to have it so right.

I mean, really Nella Wafers?  Too good.

,Erica Schuetz

*In case you’ve never read The Onion, it’s a humor newspaper that publishes entirely fictional, satirical articles.

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March 11th, 2009

Thousands of People Sporting rBGH-free Milk Mustaches for National "Know Your Milk" Day

Nothing goes better with chocolate chip cookies than a tall, cold glass of rBGH-free milk. As you can see in the photo, Food & Water Watch staff is having fun celebrating National ‚Know Your Milk” Day , a day of action where thousands of people across the country are flooding their Congress members phone lines. Know Your Milk Day
From San Francisco and Chicago, to Philadelphia and New York, activists dressed in cow costumes at local coffee houses are inviting the public to eat cookies and drink artificial hormone-free milk while calling members of Congress. People are asking representatives to include language in the Child Nutrition Act , up for re-authorization this year – stating that schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and other federal feeding programs can purchase milk that is free of artificial hormones.

Approved in 1994 by the Food and Drug Administration, rBGH is injected into cows to make them produce more milk. Besides the documented increase of infections in dairy cows injected with rBGH, which necessitates increased use of antibiotics, there are ongoing questions about links to cancer in humans. Based on the number of dairies that use rBGH in the United States, it is possible that at least 84 million gallons of milk from rBGH-treated cows were distributed through the school nutrition programs in fiscal year 2005-2006. That‚ way too much potentially dangerous milk making it‚ way to our nation‚ most vulnerable members of society , our children. Read the full article…

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March 10th, 2009

Starting a dialogue

April 6, 2009 Update: Last night the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) released a feature story concerning the shooting of seals by Scottish salmon farmers. In this article it was made painfully clear that the Scottish salmon industry does shoot seals to protect their salmon cages, despite previous attempts to play down this practice. While the industry has only admitted to killing 489 seals in the last year, concerned groups estimate that the number could reach up to 5,000. No matter what the number is, killing seals to protect aquaculture cages is repulsive.

Recently we posted a blog entitled ‘Intolerable Cruelty’ which prompted a response from a Scottish fish farmer who questions some of its claims and asks for clarification. So we’d like to address those concerns below (the farmer‚ name and the original text of her e-mail are withheld for privacy reasons). Read the full article…

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March 9th, 2009

Tune in…

Wenonah HeadshotTonight at 8 PM EST our Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter, will be featured on radio station WPKN in Connecticut, discussing the Fifth World Water Forum. The interview, hosted by Scott Harris, will be covering upcoming protests to defend water as a human right , something which the World Water Forum blatantly fails to do, despite assurances to the contrary. The forum will be held in Istanbul, Turkey from March 16-22. Be sure to either tune in online or, if youre in the area of Bridgeport, New Haven, New London, Montauk, or Westerly, listen in on 88.7 or 89.5 FM


- Sofía Baliño

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March 5th, 2009

A Little Bit of Mercury Won't Hurt, will it?

The Food and Drug Administration is sadly becoming notorious for sloppy work. Not only has it failed to adequately protect consumers from recent food safety fiascos, it now seems to be allowing consumption of a well-known toxin mercury.

fish in seaweedFirst, FDA ignored the presence of mercury in high fructose corn syrup, and decided to forego further testing, while neglecting to make consumers aware of the problem. Now, FDA has added fuel to the fire by releasing a flawed report regarding mercury in fish that serves as yet another example of a lack of concern for the health and well-being of the U.S. public. Once again, FDA is dragging its feet on what is a critical consumer safety issue. Read the full article…

March 3rd, 2009

Intolerable cruelty

sealThe upcoming trial of a Scottish trawlerman who clubbed 21 baby seals to death , using a fence post , is a harsh reminder of how offshore aquaculture can lead to the unnecessary deaths of a variety of marine mammals worldwide. Whether it‚ as a result of accidental drowning in netting, or from the increasing numbers of attacks by fish farm workers to stop natural feeding behaviors, the end result – the deaths of assorted animals – some that are already endangered , is inexcusable and inhumane. Combined with all the other potential ills from offshore aquaculture, it’s very troubling to see how such a practice continues to be pushed as a means to increase seafood production, and how little is being done to stop the serious problems associated with it.

Fish farms naturally attract sea lions and other predators because there is an easy meal there – how can predators resist thousands of fish crammed in cages? Unfortunately, in pursuit of a meal, many sea creatures get caught in netting and drown , sadly, often the fish farms involved are not required to report it, so the real numbers are hidden. Read the full article…

Sugary sweet?

easter goodiesThe last thing you want to think about when shopping for this season‚ Easter candy is whether or not it‚ safe to eat. It is entirely possible that those candy treats you love, along with a variety of foods and beverages, could be using sugar from genetically modified (GM) sugar beets, beets that have been genetically engineered to withstand herbicide.  How can you find out if your favorite candy is made with GM sugar? Unfortunately, you cant since the Food and Drug Administration does not require products that use GM crops to be labeled. Now, however, there is an online resource available for consumers to find out which companies have committed not to use this sugar.

Known as the Non-GM Beet Sugar Registry, the registry is sponsored by twelve organizations, including Food & Water Watch, with the purpose of creating both a resource for consumers, as well as an incentive for producers to join the registry and abandon the practice of using GM beet sugar. Read the full article…

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February 26th, 2009

Fairmont‚ Green Cuisine program goes seaward

Fairmont HotelIn a refreshing display of dedication towards fish safety, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, owner of the Savoy chain, have promised to serve sustainable seafood as part of their Green Cuisine program. Specifically, they are removing Chilean sea bass and bluefin tuna from their menus, and are looking into forming partnerships with “reputable seafood watch organizations.” We hope that they give Food & Water Watch a call!

A commitment to serve sustainable seafood is something that other restaurant and hotel chains should follow.  In addition, while Fairmont should be commended for taking this step, there are many other seafood choices to include, or exclude, for the sake of safety and sustainability. We encourage them to look at our Smart Seafood Guide to see what recommended alternatives there are to popular seafood choices, and to observe the following guidelines when buying their seafood. Read the full article…

February 23rd, 2009

Faulty Certification

An interesting letter was published in Intrafish the other day discussing how seafood labeling isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Specifically, this letter included how the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an international program established to review and certify whether various wild-caught fish are sustainably managed, is hardly as benign as it would like itself to appear.

DIPAC HatcheryThe letter in Intrafish was prompted by concerns about Alaskan salmon losing its MSC label this October, unless some company steps up and offers to fill the role of sponsor that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) will be vacating. The MSC requires each fishery to have an accredited certifier, who acts on their behalf as a sponsor to conduct an assessment of the fishery and then pay the cost of certification. So if no replacement certifier can be found for the ADFG, the Alaskan salmon fishery will be unable to use the MSC label. For MSC to pull its label from a fishery that is a prime example of sustainable fishing, purely due to a lack of funding, shows just how questionable the label is. Read the full article…