The market for organic and eco-labelled foods has grown from pretty much zero to a staggering $60 billion industry within the past twenty years. It is no surprise that this extreme growth has encouraged many to flock to the market to earn their share. But like in any other industry, there are always some who try to cut corners, falsely advertise and misrepresent themselves to consumers. Today, more and more scientists are specializing in food authenticity, helping customers weed out the imposters and ensure the words on each organic food label accurately describe the goods wrapped within them.
testing a new header
what about a third one?
Several methodologies have been perfected to detect food fraud and counterfeiting, including spectrometry, chromatography, DNA fingerprinting and isotope analysis. Lesley Chesson, a staff scientist and researcher at the University of Utah and research company IsoForensics, is an expert in such methodologies. Her work reveals that even when a label is dishonest, a food’s chemical fingerprint always tells the truth.
The open ocean aquaculture industry may have just made a new friend – the soy industry. The Soy Aquaculture Alliance is ever closer to making an agreement to use soy as feed in open ocean fish farming pens in federal waters, a move that would reportedly impact the marine environment as well as the diets of both fish and consumers – and not necessarily in a good way.
According to a new report by Food & Water Watch, an independent public interest organization funded through members, individual donors, and foundation grants, a collaboration between these two industries could be devastating to ocean life and consumer health.
“Our seas are not Roundup ready,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “Soy is being promoted as a better alternative to feed made from wild fish, but this model will not help the environment, and it will transfer massive industrial farming models into our oceans and further exacerbate the havoc wreaked by the soy industry on land—including massive amounts of dangerous herbicide use and massive deforestation.”
Interbrand, one of the world’s leading brand consulting firms, released its 2012 Best Global Green Brands Report. Toyota (#1), Johnson & Johnson (#2) and Honda (#3) top the ranking with Danone (#9), Ford (#15), Starbucks (#36) and UPS (#43) representing this year’s top risers.
To make the top 50 Best Global Green Brands, organizations must perform well in two areas: sustainability performance and sustainability perception. Interbrand examines how a brand’s sustainability efforts are perceived by consumers. Each brand’s performance score is based on 82 individual sub-metrics across six key elements: governance, stakeholder engagement, operations, supply chain, transportation and logistics, and products and services. Each brand’s perception score is determined through a consumer study covering 10,000 respondents; 1,000 in each of the ten largest economies, including the US, Japan, China, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Brazil, India and Canada. Each brand is assessed by 1,250 consumers using Interbrand’s six external brand strength pillars: authenticity, relevance, differentiation, consistency, presence and understanding.
The Best Global Green Brand report’s overall scores are calculated by combining the standardized performance and perception scores. A discount factor is applied in those cases where positive perceptions of the brand outweigh a company’s actual green performance. The change in each brand’s overall score relative to its 2011 result determines the final ranking.
Baxter International Inc., a true sustainability game-changer in the healthcare industry, issued its 2011 (and 13th consecutive) sustainability report about its social, environmental and economic performance. The report features the company’s progress toward its 2015 sustainability priorities and goals as well as its commitment to addressing the needs of stakeholders worldwide.
“At Baxter, sustainability is about creating lasting social, environmental and economic value by addressing the needs of our wide-ranging stakeholder base,” said Robert L. Parkinson, Jr., Baxter’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We succeed as a business by operating responsibly in service of these diverse stakeholders – which, in turn, ensures we can continue to advance our sustainability priorities well into the future.”
North America’s largest producer of chocolate, The Hershey Company, certainly made some waves in the past regarding its lag behind competitors in sustainable cocoa farming and fair labor laws, but recently, the company has committed itself to being a role model in corporate social responsibility, specifically sustainable farming. In partnership with cocoa supplier Agroindustrias Unidas de Cacao SA de CV (AMCO), a member of the Ecom Cocoa Group, Hershey has established the Mexico Cocoa Project, a 10-year, $2.8 million initiative to reintroduce cocoa growing in southern Mexico – a plan to help restore the country’s plagued cocoa farming industry.
Mexico’s cocoa crop has been essentially decimated for the past ten years, largely due to the spread of Moniliasis, also known as frosty pod rot, a disease that attacks the fruit of the cacao tree, causing its cocoa beans to become unusable. With this new initiative, Hershey and friends plan on making some changes.
Overall, Hershey hopes to achieve one goal: Improve the livelihoods of more than 1000 small-scale cocoa farmers and return productive cocoa growing to the ancient birthplace of domestic cocoa.
Over 50,000 participants from governments, businesses, NGOs and lobby groups are planning to attend this week’s highly anticipated Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, and a key topic of discussion will be renewing global political commitment to sustainable development and how a green global economy will affect business.
In light of this fact, KPMG International, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services, created “Sustainable Insight: Road to Rio,” a report providing perspective on the likely outcomes of the Summit as well as practical information for businesses. The report addresses the intention that the Summit can help reinforce a growing trend toward sustainable development and help build momentum and opportunities in a green economy.
Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest provider of information technology infrastructure, software, services, and solutions, released its eleventh annual Global Citizenship Report this past week. The report, providing an in-depth look at the company’s global citizenship policies, programs and performance over the last year, focuses on environmental sustainability, ethics and human rights, supply chain responsibility, social innovation and privacy.
Intel, a world leader in computing innovation, has provided public reports on its environmental, health and safety performance since 1994 and produced an annual Corporate Responsibility Report since 2001. 2012 is no exception. This year’s report focuses on three main factors – environmental, governance and social – and records the company’s success in achieving goals set in previous years.
“At Intel, corporate responsibility is a crucial component to the overall growth of our business,” said Michael Jacobson, Intel’s director of corporate responsibility. “From product to customer to employee to environment, corporate responsibility allows Intel to have a greater and more influential impact on industries, communities and the global economy.”
What follows is a breakdown of this revealing and encouraging report.
Last week, the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS), a leading producer of flavored beverages in North America and the Caribbean, released its 2012 sustainability report “We Do Good Things with Flavor.” The report outlined the company’s overall success in meeting goals determined in the inaugural 2010 report as well as detailed what future action is in the works.
While DPS’s inaugural sustainability report in 2010 established 2015 goals and outlined its approach to CSR, the new report highlights significant progress toward many of the defined benchmarks in six primary areas: environmental sustainability, health & wellness, philanthropy, workplace, ethical sourcing, and economic impact.
We know that oil consumption is a hot topic today, especially in this volatile economic climate, but as of late, petroleum’s green alternatives are making their own waves of controversy. For example, biodiesel has taken center stage this week with reports of increased grease theft from restaurant kitchens nationwide, subsequently creating an underground frying oil market.
With green energy becoming evermore prevalent and effective, the demand for biodiesel has inspired many to cash in. Here is how it happens: restaurants store used cooking grease in barrels to be picked up by a collection company, “green” thieves steal the grease and resell it to recyclers who then process it and sell the processed biodiesel to someone in the transportation industry. Yes, all this effort is over lard.
For years, restaurants had to pay companies to haul away old grease, which was used mostly in animal feed. Some gave it away to locals who used it to make biodiesel for their converted car engines. But with a demand for biofuel rising, fryer oil now trades on a booming commodities market, commanding around 40 cents per pound, about four times what it sold for 10 years ago. Many restaurants now have contracts with collection companies to sell their grease for about $300 per container. This boost in value is tempting for thieves, especially in hard times like we face today, so the rendering industry has been trying to lock down the growing market from freeloaders. But barrels of grease are still slipping through the cracks. So instead of restaurants paying collection companies, they are now paying lawyers to persecute grease thieves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years and, in 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Today that number is still climbing. Countless studies have delved into the reasons why–why are today’s children so unhealthy compared to past generations? How can families keep eating and lifestyle habits under control? What is really causing this influx of unhealthiness?
A popular scapegoat is the ever-encroaching grasp of the media and over-saturation of children with advertising, whether on television, online, in the supermarket, etc. And rightly so. Several studies (and here and here) have proven the media’s powerful influence over people’s lifestyles and decision making, and children are no exception to the rule. But what can be done to combat it?
Over the years, scientists have published countless research reports on methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But what about doing something with the emissions are currently being created? One proposal in the fight against global warming is carbon capture and storage (CCS). Last week, the North American Carbon Capture & Storage Atlas (NACCSA), a joint effort between U.S., Canadian and Mexican governments, created the first ever document mapping the underground storage potential of the continent. According to NACCSA, North America has the potential to store carbon emissions for at least 500 years.
How CCS works
Carbon capture and storage technology involves the injection of industrial emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) into suitable geologic reservoirs for the purposes of either long-term storage or energy recovery. Various technologies already exist and more are being developed to enable the capture of CO2 from industrial facilities. Once the CO2 has been captured, and depending upon the source, the gas is compressed and transported via pipeline to the injection well. The CO2 enters the subsurface as a liquid where it (hopefully) remains confined.