I'm kinda going through my email and I get a zillion food-related forwards each day. I thought some might be of interest around here. Anyone like fish in their ice cream? News of that and more below the flip...
(I've also got an action item in here, tucked away at the bottom)
The following text comes from the Dec 2006 issue of The Milkweed newspaper and it is by Paris Reidhead (I didn't make that name up.) The long story short is: Unilever (owner of many ice cream brands you've heard of) is putting genetically modified fish protein in its ice cream. Mmmmm....
Unilever, the British-Dutch global consumer marketing products giant, is the largest producer of ice cream and frozen novelties in the U.S. Unilever's brands sold in the U.S. include Breyer's ice cream, Ben&Jerry's ice cream, Klondike ice cream bars and Popsicle products.
Specifically, Breyer's Light Double-Churned, Extra Creamy Creamy Chocolate ice cream, as well as a Good Humor ice cream novelty bar, contain the genetically- modified fish "antifreeze" proteins.
Unilever's scientists have patented, and the company is using ice cream products sold in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, "antifreeze" protein substances from the blood of the ocean pout (a polar ocean species). That substance is produced through genetically modified (GM) yeast, in large vat batches. Unilever's ice cream products that contain "ice structuring protein" (ISP) contain the material at the level of .01% of finished product volume.
Did they test this stuff for safety? Sorta. They submitted data showing that codfish blood proteins are OK for people. The only glitch? The ice cream doesn't use codfish blood proteins. Sure, ocean pout is related to codfish in some way or another, but not super-closely (they aren't even in the same sub-class).
Why does fish belong in ice cream anyway? The company says that it helps the ice cream re-freeze properly after it's melted.
Unilever touts the benefits of the fish "anti-freeze" protein as "crystallization" when ice cream products warm (above proper temperatures) and then are refrozen. In truth: the fish "ant-freeze" proteins look like one more trick in the corporate bag of tricks to produce cheaper products . . . without regard to serious safety human safety consideration.
Story #2: GM Mad-Cow-Proof Cows
I found this one right on Yahoo!. The current theory about mad cow is that it is caused by a certain protein going haywire. The proteins that spread the disease are known as "prions" (for "infectious proteins"). Well... if you make the cow without the offending protein, then the cow can't get sick, right?
The GM cows are currently being tested (i.e. they've had mad cow brains injected into their brains and scientists are monitoring them to see if they die) to prove that this really works.
I've got an easier solution though: Don't feed rendered cows to pigs and don't feed rendered pigs to cows; don't feed rendered cows to chickens, and don't feed chicken litter to cows. I think that might solve the problem pretty well.
Action Item: Oppose Clones in the Food Supply
The following comes from Family Farm Defenders. The FDA wants to allow clones into the food supply, unlabeled. We've got from now to April 2nd to comment. Instructions are below.
On Thurs. 12/28/06 the FDA released its decision on cloned milk and meat, basically asserting that they are "substantially equivalent" to conventional livestock products and hence fit for human consumption. This determination was hardly surprising in light of the FDA's earlier approval of other dubious food products and processes such as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and irradiation.
Given the FDA's trackrecord, it is also unlikely that the agency will require consumer labeling since that could lead to potential corporate liability if there are adverse human health effects. This is especially relevant if cloned products are dumped on the market as a byproduct of biopharming where genetically engineered industrial enzymes, pharmaceuticals, etc. are extracted from dairy cows with potentially harmful residues in the leftover milk and meat.
There is now a 90 day public comment period on this FDA decision, ending April 2nd, 2007
Contact the FDA to express your opposition to this decision.
www.accessdata. fda.gov/scripts/ oc/dockets/ comments/ commentdocket. cfm?AGENCY= FDA
Toll free 1-888-463-6332
FDA Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061 Rockville, MD 20857
Why oppose clones in the food supply? Here's a press release from Food and Water Watch:
PRESS RELEASE FROM FOOD & WATER WATCH
Patty Lovera, (202) 797-6557 or (202) 744-0525 (cell)
December 28, 2006
Approval of Cloned Food Leaves Consumers Unprotected
Statement of Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Food and Drug Administrationâ€™s decision to
allow the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals is yet another
example of the agencyâ€™s willingness to disregard safety in the face
of industry pressure.
The safety of eating milk and meat from cloned animals is far from
proven, with only a handful of studies and little long-term
evidence. Concerns about the lack of data on eating food from cloned
animals led the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 to state that
â€œthe paucity of evidence in the literature on this topic makes it
impossible to provide scientific evidence to support this position
[that the food from cloned animals should be approved].â€ But
apparently, this skimpy body of evidence is enough for FDA to allow
these products onto consumersâ€™ dinner tables.
Aside from human health concerns, many people have ethical objections
about cloning animals. A 2004 Gallup poll revealed that 64% of
Americans believe that cloning animals for food is â€œmorally
wrong.â€ This strong opposition to the technology makes it even more
important that cloned foods are labeled so concerned consumers can
avoid them. Yet the FDA is not planning to require labeling of
products from cloned animals.
The low survival rate and high number of deformities in cloned
animals also raise significant concerns about cruelty to animals.
Studies of cloned animals show survival rates as low as five percent
and in those that survive, health problems including organ
malformation, digestive problems, and weakened immune systems.
We are also concerned by FDAâ€™s apparent unwillingness to consider
negative information about cloning. The Associated Press recently
reported the story of Greg Wiles, a Maryland farmer who was the first
to have a commercial clone on a dairy farm. Wiles has been trying to
alert federal officials about a number of health problems experienced
by his animals, while complying with the FDAâ€™s voluntary moratorium
on placing milk and meat from cloned animals into the food supply.
He has attempted over the last several years to bring this matter to
the attention of federal regulators, only to be rebuffed in his
attempts to have his cloned animals fully evaluated and used in
Numerous ethical and safety concerns about cloned food products were
cited in a petition filed with FDA by a number of public interest
groups in October. The petition called on the agency to enact a
moratorium on foods produced from cloned animals and establish rules
for reviewing food safety and environmental impacts before these
products are sold to consumers. The petition also called for the
establishment of a committee to advise FDA on the ethical issues
Rather than allowing cloned products to be sold to consumers, the
agency should take the actions requested in the petition. It is too
soon for this controversial technology to be unleashed in the
If meat and milk from cloned animals do reach the marketplace,
Congress should instruct FDA to require labeling so consumers have
the information they need if they wish to avoid eating this poorly understood new technology.
Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer rights group based in
Washington, D.C that challenges the corporate control and abuse of
our food supply and water resources. Visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org