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November 13th, 2008

Calling all marine enthusiasts on the West coast!

Meet us at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle between November 20-22! We will be there handing out free seafood guides and magnets and getting
the word out about important fish issues.

Pacific Marine Expo is the largest commercial marine tradeshow on the West Coast.  Serving all aspects of the market, including commercial vessels owners, commercial fishermen, boatbuilders and seafood processors, this annual event covers it all.  If you make your living on the water, or provide services to those who do, this is your show.

-Food & Water Watch

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November 10th, 2008

Bush Administration Trashing Country on the Way Out

During their last days in power, President Bush and his administration are  evidently uninterested in improving their image or even maintaining it. It seemed fathomable, after multiple indications of failure, that the administration would acknowledge the incompetence of its deregulatory doctrine and, like the public, accept the need for regulation. Unfortunately, that’s nowhere near the case. Instead, they’ve decided to blatantly ignore consumer interest and have one last push at passing rules to further weaken our health, safety, and environmental protections.

Like frat boys ending a party at full drunken force, it looks like they are rushing to do as much as damage in as little time as they can. Perhaps they have learned something in the course of their eight years of experience — they’re attempting to set these policies up in a way that will make it difficult for the incoming administration to reverse them. If they pass a rule by December 22nd and it takes effect before Inauguration Day, the new administration will not be able to revoke it without creating a new rule, which often takes months.

In the coming weeks, Food & Water Watch will be working hard to minimize the damage the administration is expected to inflict on the public and the environment. Stay tuned for opportunities to help and take action on one important issue now: urge the USDA to protect our food labels.

-Elissar Khalek

November 6th, 2008

The tip of the iceberg

Just when it seemed that the melamine scare couldn’t get any worse, we find out that the problem may be far deeper than we imagined. Eggs sold in Hong Kong, imported from mainland China, have been found to have twice the FDA‚ supposed “safe limit” of melamine. How did it get there? Apparently through contaminated feed , which means that beef, chicken, pork, and fish may also be at risk. However, U.S. and European agencies have yet to do something about it.

While Hong Kong authorities are responding by expanding their testing of products to include pork, fish, and offal products, the same sort of initiative has yet to be seen in the U.S.. And in Europe, while authorities admit to being aware of the situation, they still have not issued any sort of alert to consumers. In this they are showing an astonishing degree of willful irresponsibility, shockingly similar to FDA-backdated (and long overdue) recall of the contaminated Koala‚ March cookies. Read the full article…

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October 28th, 2008

"Call me irresponsible"

‚Smithfield: Good food. Responsibly.” This is the heading at the top of the Smithfield website, trying to convince consumers that all of its environmental awards actually reflect environmental quality.  And they now have another award to add to their list of accolades , the McDonald‚ first ever Sustainability Award, a prize that they actually nominated themselves for. They presumably won it for having described how they try to conserve natural resources, treat animals humanely, and ensure the health and welfare of their employees. Now if only all this were true, then this award would be a great achievement.

This is hardly the first time that Smithfield has been given a pat on the back for supposedly being environmentally friendly. On their website, they talk about being the first to receive ISO 14001 certification for its U.S. hog production and pork and beef processing facilities , presumably the ‚international gold standard for environmental management.” Not to mention being ranked as a ‚socially responsible company,” or other awards from places like the American Meat Institute or the Virginia government.  Sounds quite impressive, right? Read the full article…

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October 27th, 2008

Fish Team's Gulf Diary

Food & Water Watch’s fish team is currently in the Gulf of Mexico region, working to bring out a variety of local voices to the Gulf Council’s public hearings on aquaculture. Marianne and Sascha, two of our fishy fighters, send dispatches from their work in the north Gulf region. We hit the ground running on Wednesday, having meetings with various local allies in Mississippi to plan our week. In the evening, we were invited as guest speakers for the local Mississippi Sierra Club chapter. We had a great discussion about ocean fish farming, and in particular concerns with use of wild fish in feed for farmed fish. About 1 billion pounds of Gulf Menhaden are already taken annually from the Gulf of Mexico , and these fish are important in the wild as food for larger wild fish, birds and other marine wildlife. The chapter is very interested in Gulf of Mexico issues, and a group of people from the meeting agreed to attend the Gulf Council public hearing Monday night! They plan to carpool down to Mobile. We also had an interview with a reporter from the Associated Press by phone. That night, we headed up to New Orleans to stay with friends. Read the full article…

October 24th, 2008

Congratulations to Our Winning Seafood Chefs!

Food & Water Watch held the Get Cookin’! sustainable seafood recipe contest to gather the best recipes for the variety of seafood choices we recommend in our Smart Seafood Guide. Over the past several weeks, we received a multitude of recipes from seafood lovers all over the place. We were so excited to see how many people out there care about what they eat and have so many creative ideas for serving it.

We judged the recipes on the basis of several criteria: first, they had to include a type of seafood that we recommend in our Smart Seafood Guide. Other criteria included healthfulness, ease of preparation, originality and of course‚ most importantly‚ deliciousness. This last factor might seem subjective, but we had a panel of dedicated judges from the Food & Water Watch staff, including our partner chef, Rocky Barnette, who gathered to cook and taste all the recipes. It took a few rounds of voting before we were able to come to final decisions on all our winners, but we finally did. Throughout the tastings, everyone‚ response seemed to be the same: ‚yum!” According to Chef Rocky, all the recipes were well-written and very professional. All the staff judges had a lot of good things to say about every recipe. Read the full article…

Fish Team Making Waves in the Gulf

In preparation for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council‚ upcoming public hearing on open ocean aquaculture, Food & Water Watch‚ fish team has been traveling around the Gulf Region speaking with fishermen, students and others about the plan. For the past couple days Christina and I have been driving around Mobile Bay, from Mobile through Bon Secour, Foley Beach and Gulf Shores. We started out the day stopping by a couple bait and tackle shops, where most people were surprised to hear about the plan and couldn’t believe that it was already coming up for vote. It’s shocking to imagine that a plan with so many negative ramifications for commercial fisherman, shrimpers, recreational fisherman, coastal communities and consumers in general hasn’t even been publicized.

Next, we made our way down to Pelican point where we found some people net fishing off the end of the road. One, the “mayor” and “dock master” told us he didn’t understand why anyone would talk about putting resources into building farms in the Gulf, which will add more pollution, when we need to spend our resources cleaning it up. Read the full article…

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October 23rd, 2008

Double Congratulations to Maude Barlow!

A special congratulations goes out to one of our board members, Maude Barlow, whose impressive activism career recently led to her appointment as senior water advisor to the U.N. president!  In addition to the award-winning film, Blue Gold, which is based on her book,  Maude Barlow has written 15 other books and received six honorary doctorates. To add to her remarkable resume, she was just awarded the Citation
for Lifetime Achievement from the Canadian Environment Awards
, Canada’s highest environmental award.

Congrats on both of these well-deserved honors, Maude!

Congratulate her yourself.


-Food & Water Watch

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And the melamine just keeps on coming

Over the past several weeks, melamine has become a household name. It seems that not a day goes by without another product being recalled or suspected of contamination. All this begs the question, how did this not get discovered sooner? How did the range of products involved become so vast? Clearly China is going to have to do some fancy footwork to redeem their products in the eyes of the world. And the world must learn to respond quicker.

Recently 1,500 dogs bred for their raccoon-like fur died from eating melamine-tainted feed, leading to the development of kidney stones. All in one village. Yet this was not a first , last year, melamine-contaminated wheat gluten, a pet food ingredient made in China, caused dozens of dogs and cats in North America. Why was nothing done then? Read the full article…

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October 21st, 2008

Blue Gold Makes a Splash at the Vancouver International Film Festival

Last week the feature documentary Blue Gold won the Audience Choice Best Environmental Film award at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Based on Maude Barlow’s and Tony Clarke’s book “Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water,” this film brings to the forefront the unethical dealings of corporate giants, private investors, and corrupt governments that are trying to control what little is left of the world’s fresh water supply.

However, people are fighting back, trying to protect what is rightfully theirs and of their descendants. Their efforts range from lawsuits to revolutions, from local protests at schools to fighting it out at U.N. conventions, in the hopes that water is not reduced to being a commodity or a tool for manipulation. The film brings all this and more to light, not allowing anyone at fault to escape from blame. Read the full article…