November 1, 2013

CLF Week in Links: Fishy Business, More on Meat, Boston and Philly

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director Emeritus

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Asian-grass-carpThe Gulf in trouble. Two disturbing stories about the health of our oceans have surfaced in the last week. The first is from Al Jazeera America, and it describes sea life in the Gulf of Mexico three years after the BP oil well blowout. Seafood catches are declining substantially, and there are seafood deformities such as shrimps born without eyes and crabs with holes in their shells. Al Jazeera doesn’t shy from strong statements in this article, referring to the Gulf as an “ecosystem in crisis” and as an “environment in distress,” and the article includes a chilling quote from Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. In 2010, oil gushed from the Deepwater Horizon for 91 days. How many years will it take for the Gulf’s ecosystem to recover?

An ocean of trouble. The second disturbing story is from the Newcastle Herald (Australia), and it’s the tale of a sailor who retraced his path, 10 years after his original voyage from Australia to Japan. What this sailor found this time is a lot of nothing—no fish, no seabirds, no dolphins, no turtles—but plenty of garbage. The sailor’s verdict? “The ocean is broken,” he said.

Holy carp. This On Earth story tells the startling tale of how the “insatiable and destructive Asian carp is reproducing in the Great Lakes watershed.” An accidental release of this non-native fish in 1966 set the invaders loose in the Mississippi River, and they’ve been eating their way north ever since. Let this be a warning to anyone who thinks that we can safely raise and contain genetically engineered salmon or any other kind of potentially invasive species in “closed” pens or farms.

The real worry. In this Forbes story, Steven Salzberg argues that all our angst about GMOs should be directed to the greater evil—the misuse of antibiotics in livestock production. Salzberg quotes our press release and our blogpost that covered the event.

Meat in the mainstream. Even the editors at the typically mainstream USAToday say it’s taking too long to stop misuse of antibiotics in industrial animal food production farms, and that there’s an imminent antibiotic crisis. (And they cite CLF report on IFAP). Read it and weep.

Boston in the news. Hats off to my old stomping grounds for their victory in the World Series. Many of us from CLF will be in Boston this weekend for the APHA conference. (Last year, when APHA was in San Francisco, the San Francisco Giants won the Series. Coincidence?) Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has been very forward-thinking in terms of food policy in his city, and last year he chaired the U.S. Conference of Mayors Food Policy Task Force. In the coming week, we’ll see who wins the election to be Mayor Menino’s successor. I hope that either Walsh or Connolly can continue his legacy of promoting urban farming and gardening and adopting policies that promote healthy eating.

Meatless in Philly. Despite the prevalence of the cheesesteak, Philadelphia’s City Council unanimously approved a resolution to support the Meatless Monday campaign. According to the blogpost about the vote, “The resolution, which is completely symbolic and includes no regulatory measures or spending, encourages residents and businesses across the City to curb carnivorous consumption on the first day of the work week.  Simply put, the resolution is an attempt to raise awareness about healthy diet—a good thing from a public health perspective.”

Photo of grass carp: JoJan at en.wikipedia

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