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Force Feeding Gulf Seafood to the Most Vulnerable?

Press Release: Force Feeding Gulf Seafood to the Most Vulnerable?
From: The Emergency Committee to Stop the Gulf Oil Disaster

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Encouraging people to consume Gulf of Mexico seafood in the face of independent testing that demonstrates elevated levels of hydrocarbons in the seafood amounts to reckless disregard for public safety. Ewell Smith's proposal, as Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, to serve Gulf seafood to captive audiences including school children and prisoners, could further exacerbate an exploding health crisis on the Gulf coast. Secretary of Navy Ray Mabus's proposal to serve Gulf seafood to the military personnel is equally reprehensible.

Independent testing of seafood reveals potentially dangerous levels of hydrocarbons. Nonetheless, the government insists the seafood is safe. Independent labs and scientists say otherwise. William Sawyer, a toxicologist from Florida, points out that the government raised the allowable levels of hydrocarbons in seafood for this spill. In addition, continued use of the dispersant Corexit in Gulf waters is still being reported by Gulf residents. The reports of continued Corexit use are coming in long after the government's stated date of July 15th, as the last date Corexit was used in the Gulf of Mexico.

We question the recent BP appropriation of $30 million to Louisiana to market seafood that is fished from a marine and wetlands environment that continues to be stained with visible oil in Louisiana marshes. Recent reports reveals this ecological disaster is far from over; large quantities of oil continue to wash up on Gulf shores and Louisiana marshes.

We feel that a far better use of the $30 million that the Louisiana seafood and marketing board plans to use to push the consumption of seafood would be to assist gulf families as they adjust to lifestyles without fishing and shrimping, without jobs in the seafood industry. In addition, we encourage those who care about the safety of children, prisoners and the military to assist us in informing those populations, and advocates for those populations, of plans afoot to feed them potentially contaminated seafood.

Gulf residents are also widely reporting serious health issues from exposure to hydrocarbons and the dispersants applied by BP, with independent results showing elevated toxicity associated with the chemicals in this disaster. We call for additional, independent testing, and BP and government funding of that testing with no strings attached. In an environment in which people are becoming ill from exposure to toxic chemicals, does it make sense to encourage the consumption of seafood from that same environment? We think not.

It appears that the bottom line of the state, local and federal governments are to reassert the market for Gulf seafood before the restoration process of our marine ecology has even begun. We believe the health and safety of residents comes first, along with the restoration of our marine ecology.

In order to accomplish this, the following demands must be met:

1. We call on James Ewell, Director of the Louisiana Seafood and Promotion Marketing Board, to rescind the proposal that school children and prisoners be fed Gulf seafood. The concept of using school children and prisoners as guinea pigs is reprehensible.

2. We call on Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, to rescind his proposal for the military to be, essentially, force fed Gulf seafood.

3. We call on the U.S. Coast Guard to disallow any further use of dispersants, namely Corexit, in the Gulf of Mexico.
4. We call on the Center for Disease Control to immediately begin to address health issues on the Gulf coast. Many Vessel of Opportunity Workers, along with residents, have become ill from exposure to toxic chemicals. Like the 9/11 workers, these folks will need immediate and lifelong health attention and benefits.
5. We call on parish, state and federal officials to relinquish funds earmarked for seafood marketing to go to families instead for immediate financial and health assistance.
6. We call on the federal government to seize BP's American assets and apply those assets to health and environmental reparation, and to families struggling with the loss of their livelihoods.
7. We call for the resignation of the directors of the EPA, NOAA, the CDC, the FDA and Homeland Security for failing to protect the people and environment of the Gulf coast from the use of, and toxic exposure to, Corexit.
8. We call on the Justice Department to immediately begin a criminal investigation into agencies, state, local and federal, and BP for the causes of this ongoing environmental disaster.

We the People will not be Silenced.

Elizabeth Cook
Robert Desmarais Sullivan
Mike Howells


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