Category Archives: Viva!

Not Just Tuna: The truth behind the world’s biggest tuna company

The tuna industry is out of control.

It’s time to change the tuna industry.

The global tuna industry is out of control. It is emptying our oceans of fish, harming other marine life and exploiting workers in shocking ways.

Workers report being beaten, abused and even forced to work on ships for months or years at a time. Fishing vessels use methods that wreak havoc on marine life like sharks and sea turtles. Tuna is even being stored in the same containers as the dirty diesel the ships use, then sold onto consumers.

Korean longliner No. 208 Dongwon is seen hauling tuna in the central Pacific Ocean. 26 Aug, 2015 © Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

Though the reality of the industry is clear, the world’s largest canned tuna company – Thai Union Group – is looking the other way. But we know from hard-hitting media exposés to our own investigative research that Thai Union Group is seriously implicated in horrendous human rights and environmental abuses.

Thai Union Group has launched a new logo and PR campaign – “One Future” – to convince all of us that its reputation and work practices are beyond question. But there is no future for tuna and for many who are forced to work in the industry if Thai Union Goup does not clean up its act.

We need more than a slick PR campaign and new logo. That’s why we contacted Thai Union Group last Friday to say that we are launching a global campaign demanding that it address environmental and labour abuse in its supply chain and that we’ll expose its brands – from Sealect in Thailand, to Chicken of the Sea in the United States, to John West in the UK and Petit Navire in France – so consumers know what they are buying.

We also wrote to Thai Union Group’s shareholders and other institutional investors warning them of the financial risks associated with these destructive and harmful practices.

No response yet.

Thai Union Group needs to make some dramatic changes. But for that to happen, the company’s management has to feel pressure from people all over the world.

Thai Union Group can become the world’s leader in providing seafood that is sustainably and ethically sourced. Thai Union Group’s size, reach and purchasing power mean the company has both a huge responsibility and is uniquely positioned to drive much needed change in global tuna fisheries.

Greenpeace has already made progress with leading brands and retailers in major markets, including the UK and Australia – getting them to clean up their tuna supply chains. Now we are up against the world’s largest tuna corporation and its brands, everywhere. It’s going to take all of us. But when we change Thai Union Group, we will start changing the entire tuna industry.

Join this new global campaign and tell Thai Union Group it’s time to change.

Graham Forbes is the Global Seafood Markets Project Leader at Greenpeace USA.

Goya in hell: the bloodbath that explains his most harrowing work


His horrifyingly bleak Black Paintings are said to be a result of Goya going deaf. But is there another reason? As the National Gallery show opens, Jonathan Jones finds the shocking answer in the artist’s hometown of Zaragoza

A dog is drowning in quicksand. Its grey head pokes defiantly out of the brown sludge, even as a dead yellow sky above insists there is no hope. No saviour. In the next painting, supernatural shapers of the world reveal themselves, but they are grinning hags floating eerily above a lifeless landscape in the dead of night – the Fates, arbitrary and uncaring. Over on the other side of the gallery is a paternal god, of sorts, but it is the ancient deity Saturn and he is eating one of his own children, as if chomping on churros at a Spanish bar, with blood instead of chocolate sauce.

Continue reading…





The Lancet: WHO Estimates That 50% Of Drugs For Sale Online Are Fake



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It’s a story we’ve covered before (see Study: Substandard & Falsified TB Drugs & Interpol & FDA: Operation Pangea V), but according to experts, it is getting worse:  The rise in fake, or substandard prescription drugs, often sold via online pharmacies.  


Some of these drugs have none of the promised active ingredients, while others may be less potent than advertised, or are laced with potentially dangerous substitutes or fillers. Often more money is spent trying to duplicate the packaging of a legitimate product, than is spent producing the medicine itself.


And the end result can not only be tragic for the user – but also to society – as using substandard medicines is one of the ways that drug resistant bacteria, viruses, and parasites can be created and spread.


A prime example, In 2012, in FDA Warning On Fake Adderall we learned that some of these drugs don’t even come close to containing what they advertise:


FDA’s preliminary laboratory tests revealed that the counterfeit version of Teva’s Adderall 30 mg tablets contained the wrong active ingredients. Adderall contains four active ingredients – dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, and amphetamine sulfate. Instead of these active ingredients, the counterfeit product contained tramadol and acetaminophen, which are ingredients in medicines used to treat acute pain.


And if you think buying from a `Canadian online pharmacy’ is some kind of guarantee that you won’t get ripped off, know some of those are just web fronts for illegal pharmacies operated around the globe.  

Yesterday The Lancet published a long report on the spectacular growth of fake online prescription drugs in:


Rise in online pharmacies sees counterfeit drugs go global

Fiona Clark 



In high-income countries it might not be at the forefront of every practitioner’s mind, but the rise of online pharmacies in Europe and the USA could change that. WHO estimates that 50% of the drugs for sale on the internet are fake and even though the online dispensaries might look legitimate, a survey of 10 000 of them done by America’s National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) found that 9938 did not comply with NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards or US state and federal laws. Most said they were based in Canada but were really a front for illegal offshore operations.

. . . .

WHO puts the annual death toll from counterfeit drugs at around 1 million. The largest single group is in Africa where around 200 000 people are said to die each year as a result of fake antimalarial drugs. In the USA, in the late 2000s, 81 people died from using an adulterated heparin imported from China and another 68 lost their lives in other parts of the world.

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Unless you are buying your prescription drugs from an unscrupulous online pharmacy, Americans are most likely to encounter these fake or substandard medications while traveling to developing countries.  The CDC’s Traveler’s Health website offers the following advice.

Counterfeit Drugs

Bottle of pills

Counterfeit (or fake) medicines are manufactured using incorrect or harmful ingredients. These medicines are then packaged and labeled to look like real brand-name and generic drugs. Counterfeit medicines are unsafe because they may not be effective or may even harm you.

Counterfeiting occurs throughout the world, but it is most common in countries where there are few or no rules about making drugs. An estimated 10%–30% of medicines sold in developing countries are counterfeit. In the industrialized world (countries such as the United States, Australia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and those in the European Union), estimates suggest that less than 1% of medicines sold are counterfeit.

The only way to know if a drug is counterfeit is through chemical analysis done in a laboratory. Counterfeit drugs may look strange or be in poor-quality packaging, but they often seem identical to the real thing. The only way to make sure you have the real thing is to bring all the drugs you will need during your trip with you from the United States, rather than buying them while you are traveling.

Pills being manufactured

If an emergency occurs and you must buy drugs during your trip, you can reduce your chances of buying drugs that are counterfeit:

  • Buy medicines only from licensed pharmacies and get a receipt. Do not buy medicines from open markets.
  • Ask the pharmacist whether the drug has the same active ingredient as the one that you were taking.
  • Make sure that the medicine is in its original packaging.
  • Look closely at the packaging. Sometimes poor-quality printing or otherwise strange-looking packaging will indicate a counterfeit product.
  • If you buy drugs online, visit Buying Prescription Medicines Online: A Consumer Safety Guide to learn how to buy safely.

“I work at the UNHCR, but I have a quite junior position. I…

“I work at the UNHCR, but I have a quite junior position. I have a desk job where I reach out to job candidates and try to get them to consider UNHCR. But whenever there’s an emergency, anyone who has a useful skill is sent to the field. This is my first emergency mission. My father is Iranian so I speak a little bit of Farsi. I didn’t realize how useful that could be. Yesterday I was helping an Afghan woman carry her child across the Serbian border, and I was explaining to her what she could expect when we arrived. She was so comforted by the little information I could offer. I’ve seen so many faces light up just because they heard “Welcome To Croatia” in their mother tongue. I’m thankful for my desk job, but this is why I joined the UNHCR.” (Tovarnik, Croatia)

Source: “I work at the UNHCR, but I have a quite junior position. I…