March, 2009 | Food & Water Watch
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Blog Posts: March 2009

March 31st, 2009

Kindai tuna , a poorly designed attempt at sustainability

A small group of U.S. restaurants are hoping to lure consumers back to eating bluefin tuna now that stock depletion has made it a socially unacceptable choice. The path to putting bluefin back on a menu? A new product, called Kindai. This particular brand of tuna was created by a lab at a Japanese university, from hatched eggs farmed in captivity.

Bluefin tunaIt almost sounds like a good idea, with wild stocks being so precariously low , until you consider the facts. Kindai tuna still has many of the disadvantages of other farmed fish. Tuna are carnivorous , they eat other smaller fish. The need for using fish in the feed for farmed tuna could contribute to depletion of various small wild food fish stocks, as it can take between 10 to 13 pounds of wild fish to produce just one pound of bluefin tuna. Though Kindai are being raised from egg to adult, rather than catching juveniles from the wild and growing them for market as has been done in the past, the scientists still must catch a few dozen wild bluefin each year to ensure the population has enough genetic variability. Read the full article…

Medication in your water: Not what the doctor ordered

MedicineHow would you feel if you knew that you were unintentionally ingesting medications with your seafood? What about your drinking water? Well according to investigations being conducted by the Associated Press and the Environmental Protection Agency, that is exactly what is happening in various parts of the United States, including major metropolitan areas.

The seafood study focused on fish caught near wastewater treatment plants serving Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Orlando. Researchers found that these fish had residues of a variety of medicines in them, including those to treat allergies, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and bipolar disorder and depression. Not something you’d like to worry about when you’re ordering your next fish platter! Meanwhile, the water study showed that 41 million Americans are ingesting water with medication residues in them, with little known about the potential long-term effects. Read the full article…

March 30th, 2009

Getting the facts straight on H.R. 875

The renewed congressional effort to reform America‚ broken food safety system has brought a flurry of food safety bills on Capitol Hill.  Strangely, the strongest bill for consumers has received a lot of unfounded negative attention lately. Representative Rosa DeLauro’s Food Safety Modernization Act – H.R. 875 – will go a long way in modernizing and overhauling the Food and Drug Administration and give consumers the food protection they deserve.

Unfortunately, the rumor mill has misled the public about the legislation., a reputable group known for its objective and unbiased look into TV ads, debates, speeches and interviews, sifted through the misinformation to assess what is H.R. 875 fact and what is fiction. Read the full article…

Shoddy work ethic in our food safety system

Salmonella OutbreakCan you imagine a food processing company that is given a Certificate of Achievement despite having dry-roasted rodents and salmonella-tainted products at their facilities? It‚ one of the crazy things about the world we live in. Nine deaths and almost 700 illnesses have been counted since the peanut scandal began a few months ago. All because the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) decided to take a few shortcuts and withhold the fact that they had discovered salmonella in some of their production plants. Responsibility for this does not just fall upon PCA, however. The Food & Drug Administration‚ lax oversight, coupled with the sporadic and ineffective use of state inspectors and third party auditors, allowed for this situation to unfold. Read the full article…

March 26th, 2009

Wenonah Hauter on Democracy Now: World Water Forum is "a big business corporate cheerleading session"

This week, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter, along with Food & Water Watch Board Chair Maude Barlow, who serves as special advisor to the United Nations on Water, were featured on Democracy Now! discussing the World Water Forum and the counter events, the People’s Water Forum. Watch the interviews here.

Labeling Dilemma for Alaskan salmon

Why pay for a service that might not have real value? That is the question that Alaskan salmon fisheries are facing now that the state has decided not to cover the costs for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label. Alaskan salmon fishermen have been given two choices: find another entity to cover the costs, now that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) will no longer pay, or go without the label.

Alaskan Salmon grillingADFG is not out of the picture completely. It is willing to be involved in the certifying, but only if the salmon industry in its state is treated as one fishery, as opposed to several, and if someone else will cover the actual cost. However, Alaska’s sustainable fisheries have good reason not to want to incur the costs of the MSC label. Annual sustainability audits run $75,000, and recertification every five years is approximately $150,000, according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce. It seems ludicrous that Alaskan salmon fisheries might lose the MSC “sustainability” label purely for financial reasons. Read the full article…

March 19th, 2009

CyClone Dairy – putting a good face on a bad practice

You’ve got to hand it to the CyClone Dairy people. They’ve decided that rather than hide the fact that they use milk from cloned animals and their offspring, they’ll brag about it instead and hope that people assume that their positive attitude comes from a product that‚ been proven “safe.” Unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite of the website’s cheerful photos and catchy slogans.

CowThe data on the safety of cloned products for human consumption is limited, while ethical concerns and negative animal health effects are extensive. However, the Food and Drug Administration, in keeping with their bad track record of approving questionable technologies with few questions asked, announced little over a year ago that they believed meat and milk from cloned animals safe to eat.  The agency managed to ignore the litany of problems that have yet to be solved with the entire cloning process. They also ignored over 30,000 comments opposing their stance on cloning. Read the full article…

Political Intrigue at the World Water Forum

Behind the World Water Forum‚ public posture as a trade expo and an educational exchange among water advocates lies a labyrinth of political intrigue and corporate cronyism. Corporate interests that make up the World Water Council are in constant contact with the World Bank and other financial institutions; each Forum pretends to be a quasi-United Nations event, to the extent of issuing a Ministerial Statement at the Forum‚ close promoting global policy approaches to water and sanitation.

President of the UN General Assembly, requested to be given an opportunity to publicly address the World Water Forum, but received no response from the Forum‚ organizers.

This year, Miguel Descoto Brockman, President of the UN General Assembly, requested to be given an opportunity to publicly address the World Water Forum, but received no response from the Forum‚ organizers. Concerning Descoto‚ effective exclusion, Maude Barlow, his Senior Advisor on Water, said, “The Forum portrays itself as a UN event. But the President of the UN General Assembly was denied the opportunity to speak. We could hardly have a more clear message about the Forum‚ priorities.” Read the full article…

Voices of Dissent Unwelcome at the 5th World Water Forum

Before coming to the World Water Forum, we knew that it was an elite event, both hosted and attended by corporate interests , while welcoming under its umbrella a wide range of laudable and effective public-sector and development organizations. But by the second day of the forum, the exclusivity and elitism that marks the event, the panel discussions, and the massive trade expo that accompanies the forum is truly shocking.

From the entrance price (about $129 US per day) to the overwhelming security presence both outside and in, the clearest message to come forth is the divide between those who make decisions about water policy and those who live (and, in most of the world, die) with those decisions. Read the full article…

March 18th, 2009

Corporate Water Barons Indifferent to Running Water But Not Security at 5th World Water Forum

Now into its third day, the World Water Forum has an incredible police presence, and the security is downright oppressive. So much so that there are special VIP entrances and areas , including the restrooms. Yet despite the painstaking attention afforded to security, the forum is lax on certain other logistical details. Last night, one of the buildings that housed panel discussions and workshops did not have water for flushing the toilets or washing hands—a sad but fitting metaphor for the inefficiencies of privatized water systems that the World Water Forum promotes.

“Security intervenes if we try to ask questions at panels…”

Indeed, it is security, not access to water, that reigns as the top concern here. Forum attendees must have their access badges scanned at multiple security checkpoints. Our whereabouts are tracked throughout the forum, following which building we are in and what workshops we are going to. Security intervenes if we try to ask questions at panels or ask to present information that is contrary to what is being promoted.  Even the bathrooms have security. What, do you suppose, are they so afraid of? Read the full article…

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