Every Friday I post the most interesting vegan news articles and blogs I’ve read. This week in vegan news …
1. World Trade Organization to Hear Case on Animal Welfare
Monday saw the first hearing on the European Union’s controversial ban on seal products. Cananda, which threatened to go to the World Trade Organization in 2009 to settle the dispute, will present its arguments in Geneva alongside Norway to a three member dispute settlement panel at the WTO. The goal of the panel is to determine if the EU sales ban violates the WTO rules.
If the panel finds the ban is a violation it will then have to rule “whether the EU”s ban is still justified because it is necessary to respond to citizens’ legitimate moral concerns about the welfare of seals.”
Sonja Van Tichelen, International Fund for Animal Welfare’s European Regional Director, said this case asks an important question, “Can citizens in Europe and elsewhere stop something which concerns them greatly, in this case trading in seal products from the inherently cruel commercial seal industry, or does international trade trump their legitimate concerns?”
2. FDA Moves One Step Closer to Approving Genetically Engineered Salmon
After facing criticism for trying to keep their environmental assessment on genetically engineered salmon under the radar by releasing the report just days before Christmas, the FDA has extended “the public comment period for AquaBounty Technologies’ application for AquAdvantage Salmon” to April 26.
“The FDA’s recent decision could now signal a green light for the global production of GE salmon, and arguably open the floodgates for a range of other genetically engineered animals, including pigs, cattle and poultry,” wrote Andrew Gunther at the Huffington Post.
Tim Schwaub at EcoWatch argues the FDA isn’t playing fair:
On food safety, the agency only looked at a handful of fish, which exhibited 50 percent higher rates of allergenicity and 40 percent higher rates of a growth hormone linked to cancer in humans. The FDA played with the data to show the differences weren’t “statistically significant,” even though an independent statistician invited by the FDA called the agency’s analysis woefully flawed.
3. Are the Food Giants Trying to Make You Addicted?
Last week we had a doctor advocate meat coming with a warning label and a report that big food is dipping into big tobacco’s well of manipulative tactics. Now comes a lengthy story in the latest New York Times Magazine about how companies are perfecting the science of addicting junk food (if you have the time it’s an awesome read).
It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive, wrote Michael Moss.
Moss goes through four fascinating case studies covering a variety of brands and the science behind finding their “bliss point”: Dr. Pepper, Prego spaghetti sauce, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, and Frito-Lay among others. This was followed by an eye-catching headline on Grist, “How the junk food industry has encouraged us to eat ourselves to death.”
The silver lining is that changes are being made. Granola bars are set to replace candy bars in school vending machines, according to an article in Bloomberg. These changes have happened before, and big food adapted.
Just imagine “a potato chip that tastes great and qualifies for the Clinton-A.H.A. alliance for schools,” said Frito-Lay CEO Al Carey. “We think we have ways to do all of this on a potato chip, and imagine getting that product into schools, where children can have this product and grow up with it and feel good about eating it.”
4. Are Vegans Heart-Attack Proof?
“William Castelli, the director of the Framingham Heart Study, the longest-running clinical study in medical history, believes that the heart-disease epidemic would disappear if people simply ate a vegan diet,” wrote Heather Moore of PETA.
According to the article, the average vegan has a cholesterol level of 133, a full 77 points lower than the average meat-eating American, and “there haven’t been any reported heart attacks in people with cholesterol levels below 150.” Though heart attacks are unlikely in that cholesterol range, the claim may not be entirely accurate.