News bites, November 2015

Sound Consumer November 2015

Forced labor in fishing

Efforts to end forced labor in the fishing industry are gaining traction. Class-action lawsuit s recently were filed against Mars and Nestlé, producers of seafood-based pet food brands including Iams and Fancy Feast, accusing them of failing to disclose their dependence on forced labor. Several lawmakers have introduced legislation to increase transparency and accountability, and the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking plans to discuss ways to reward companies with better policies to prevent labor abuses. (The New York Times)


Paleo flour?

The modern paleo diet excludes grains, but the original paleo eaters definitely were grinding oats and other grains for dinner, according to investigations of an ancient stone recovered in a cave in Puglia, Italy. The Gravettian culture used a hand-sized stone as a pestle and grinder dating back some 32,000 years, providing the earliest evidence of food processing in Europe. The flat surface of the stone shows the kind of wear that would be produced by grinding broken seeds into flour. (NPR’s The Salt)


Court: No to bee-killing pesticide

A federal appeals court has struck down the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of sulfoxaflor, a neonicotinoid pesticide implicated in bee colony collapse. The court cited the “precariousness of bee populations” and “flawed and limited data” submitted by Dow on sulfoxaflor’s effects. The ruling followed a lawsuit by beekeepers who argued EPA itself had found sulfoxaflor to be “highly toxic to honey bees and other insect pollinators.” (Mother Jones)


Sustainable cocoa KitKat?

After facing allegations of child labor in their supply chain, Nestlé said KitKat will make all its products with sustainably sourced cocoa. The company plans to source 150,000 tons of sustainably produced cocoa annually by 2017. KitKat bars will be made with cocoa accredited by independent third parties by the first quarter of 2016. (Bloomberg.com)


Drastic tuna decline

New research from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London shows tuna and mackerel populations have suffered a “catastrophic” 74 percent decline over the last 40 years. WWF warns that unless drastic action is taken to stop overfishing and other threats to marine life, we will lose species critical to human food security. (The Guardian)


Kashi GMO lawsuit

A federal judge has approved a $3.99 million deal to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing Kashi of false advertising in labeling foods with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as “all natural.” The judge ruled “that a reasonable consumer would expect a product labeled ‘all natural’ to be free of GMOs.” Kashi has agreed to reimburse customers and to change its labels, as well as provide “compliance information” on products it claims are non-GMO. (The Daily Meal)


Chipotle lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit claims Chipotle has misled consumers in declaring it switched “to serving food made only with non-GMO ingredients .” Plaintiffs say Chipotle’s non-GMO food labeling is false and misleading because it serves beverages such as soft drinks made with GMOs, and meat, sour cream and cheese from animals that eat GMOs. Chipotle says its website carries disclaimers about the GMO content in animal products. (Reuters)


EU bans animal cloning

The European Parliament voted to ban the cloning of all farm animals and the sale of cloned livestock, their offspring and derivative products. The measure passed by a large margin and goes beyond a 2013 proposed directive that would have banned just five species: cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and horses. The EU Parliament cited animal welfare concerns in supporting the ban, claiming only a small percentage of cloned offspring survive to term and many die shortly after birth. (sciencemag.org)


Ocean acidification and shellfish

A study from Oregon State University finds shellfish industry workers are four times more likely to agree that ocean acidification is having an impact on the world’s aquatic animals. The oceans are absorbing so much carbon dioxide, turning the oceans acidic, that larval shellfish have a more difficult time building their shells. Northwest shellfish growers have experienced repeated die-offs, causing economic havoc. (Oregonlive.com)


Plot against eggless mayo

Hundreds of pages of documents provided to the Associated Press reveal a two-year campaign waged by the American Egg Board — a “quasi-governmental body” overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — to counter the emergence of Hampton Creek’s eggless Just Mayo spread. The board tried to prevent the sale of Just Mayo and paid bloggers to tout the benefits of real eggs. The campaign may be illegal as checkoff programs, such as the Egg Board, are required legally to stay within the boundaries of advertising, promotion, consumer education and research. (eatdrinkpolitics.com)


Half U.S. seafood wasted

Nearly half the U.S. seafood supply winds up uneaten, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. About a quarter of the waste occurs at sea, where fish are frequently caught by accident, then thrown back, and an additional 15 percent or so is lost en route to consumers, often because it spoils or is discarded as scraps at processing plants. Each year U.S. eaters buy but never eat 1.3 billion pounds of fish and shellfish. (NPR’s The Salt)

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PCC Board of Trustees report, November 2015

Get to know your trustees, Board report, Bylaws update — Questions?, and more