When I hear “pink slime,” I can’t help but shudder; the catchphrase is at the center of a $1.2-billion lawsuit -- Beef Product Inc. (BPI) vs. ABC News. When the TV network aired a defamatory report earlier this year against BPI’s lean finely textured beef (LFTB), it resulted in hundreds of jobs lost, three plants closed, a widespread hysteria across the nation about the safety of beef, and, oh yeah, probably a boost to ABC reporter Jim Avila’s career.
It’s no secret that sex, scandal and scare tactics sell, and the mainstream media is eager to rake in that cash. With today's consumers demanding more information about the products they feed their families, food can be a good candidate for portrayal as the “new tobacco.”
I’m all for transparency and accountability in the food industry, and I work hard to do a good job of accurately representing and explaining the beef I raise when I write about it on this blog. But, I’m also against reporters who play on people’s emotions with erroneous reporting that is short on facts.
That’s exactly what I think Avila is doing in his latest report. According to the Media Research Center (MRC), the "beef bully" is claiming that a new breed of fish could cause cancer, but cites no evidence or research in his report.
“Avila’s latest bogie-food is a new breed of salmon he worries could cause cancer, and he’s going after the company aspiring to market it. But, as usual with Avila’s reporting, something seems fishy. Avila’s shark attacks appeared on ABC’s Nightline and World News on Dec. 4,” MRC says.
“The salmon, the brainchild of the multinational biotech company AquaBounty, have been modified to reach their full size more quickly than wild salmon. This is accomplished by adding a gene from another type of salmon and one from a type of eel. The fish are kept in a secure environment described by both Avila and Aquabounty as ‘Fort Knox,’ in order to prevent them from escaping into the wild. The salmon are also sterilized, as an added protection against them contaminating the existing wild salmon population. The company is currently waiting for FDA approval.
“Avila began his attack on AquaBounty in almost the exact same way that he began his attack last March on BPI’s LFTB stating that “critics” call the salmon “frankenfish.” While not as compelling as 'pink slime,' – the name he incessantly used for BPI’s product – the mad-scientist reference was clear. For those viewers insufficiently frightened by salmon monsters, Avila conjured dinosaurs, repeatedly alluding to the Jurassic Park franchise.”
Hopefully, AquaBounty is ready and able to not only defend itself, but adequately explain its practices in an open dialogue with consumers; it’s the only chance they have against a sensationalist media intent on scaring every viewer they can round up. I encourage you to do your own research and know the facts, whether it’s buying beef, fish or laundry soap. Base your purchasing decisions on real information, not media hype.
What do you think about this latest report? Is it “Frankenfish” or just inaccurate reporting? You decide.