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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…

February 19th, 2009

25 Things You Might Not Know about Water

If you’re on Facebook, you and your friends may have posted notes with 25 facts about themselves. We wanted to share with you 25 things we think are really interesting about water. It’s on our Facebook page too.  Please feel free to share it with your friends.

25 Things You Might Not Know about Water

1. The world is currently in a water crisis. One out of six people worldwide doesn’t have access to clean water. Every year, 2 million people die of diseases caused by a lack of clean water.

2. Regions throughout the world are experiencing water shortages, due to both droughts and overuse of water. Rivers all over the world, including the Colorado River, now dry up before reaching their ends. Read the full article…

February 17th, 2009

I Can See Your Underwear/I see London, I see France

Mayor here we comeLast week in South Africa the Coalition Against Water Privatization (CAWP) hosted an event for their Women & Water Campaign that brought home just how personal an issue the right to water is, choosing action over words to make their point. How? By having over 60 women march through Johannesburg to the mayor‚ office wearing dirty, soiled underwear, and demanding the right to water. The significance of the dirty underwear? To demonstrate that water is a human right, not a privilege, and should be treated accordingly. This issue is especially pertinent to women because, to quote CAWP coordinator Petunia Nkhasi, “Women without water and sanitation are as good as dead and have no dignity.” Read the full article…

February 13th, 2009

Victory – Senator Gregg Withdraws Nomination for Commerce Secretary!

High FiveWe are very pleased (see photos) that Senator Gregg, an offshore aquaculture advocate, withdrew his nomination for Commerce Secretary yesterday. 

High Five 2Thank you for voicing your concern. Over 15,000 letters were sent from our supporters to the White House in opposition to his nomination , you definitely helped make a difference.

February 11th, 2009

Turning Salmonella into Money?

At today‚ hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee over the contaminated peanut scandal, Peanut Corp. of America owner Stewart Parnell refused to answer any questions, taking the fifth even when asked whether hed eat his own company‚ products. As reported in The New York Times, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon held up a jar of contaminated snacks, asking Parnell and the plant‚ manager, Sammy Lightsey, “Would either of you be willing to take the lid off and eat any of these products?” Both Parnell and Lightsey declined to answer, and soon after were dismissed and left the courtroom. In an email, sent after the company was identified as the source of the illness, Parnell said that the plant needed to “turn the raw peanuts on the floor into money.” Sorry, Stewart‚ turns out there is no magic trick for turning Salmonella into money. Just dire consequences and a bunch of hard questions.

– Erica Schuetz

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February 10th, 2009

Yoplait Victory

Yoplait Strawberry YogurtIt
seems that not a day goes by without another food product being deemed
unsafe. So it‚ a relief to see a company bucking that trend and making
an effort to increase its own food safety standards. In a major coup in
the fight to stop the use of rBGH, recombinant bovine growth hormone,
in dairy products, General Mills has just announced that Yoplait Yogurt will stop using any rBGH by the end of August. Why? In response to consumer demand, in other words, because enough people chose to get involved and show their concern.

This comes on the heels of New England‚ largest milk co-op, Agri-Mark
Inc., banning the use rBGH at any of its processing plants. The
ban will affect between 600 and 650 farms in New England, as well as
non-members who sell their milk to Agri-Mark. While there is concern
over the recent drop in milk prices affecting revenues for farmers, the
profitability of using rBGH is questionable, considering that while it
may increase milk production, any profit is partially or fully negated
by the costs of the hormone, of treating side effects in cows, and of
cows potentially burning out faster and having to be slaughtered. Again, it appears that Agri-Mark is responding to consumer demand for
rBGH-free products. Read the full article…

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Photos and fountains in New York City

water fountain 2nd Ave at 93rd Ever notice how hard it is to find a pay phone these days? How about a public drinking fountain? Maybe you’ve noticed it‚ not so difficult to find single serve plastic bottles of water‚ provided you shell out a dollar or two. Maybe you’ve noticed, too, that these same bottles litter our parks, while our crumbling drinking water fountains run dry. Citizens around the country have noticed this trend, and are looking for ways to reinvest in public water infrastructure rather than pad corporate pocketbooks. Many consumers are dropping bottled water and taking back the tap. Others are coming up with creative ways to raise awareness about the importance of safe, affordable public drinking water. John Famulary, for one, believes that everyone should be concerned about access to water. As Executive Director of the Urban Fitness Network, he spends a lot of time with high school students in New York City, and he can tell you that not every student he meets has spent a lot of time thinking about where his or her water comes from. Yet water is as essential to urban life as it is to all life on this planet. Read the full article…

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