News stories I’m following this week…
From CNN on Saturday: “San Francisco jurors just ruled that Roundup, the most popular weedkiller in the world, gave a former school groundskeeper terminal cancer. So they awarded him $289 million in damages — mostly to punish the agricultural company Monsanto. Dewayne Johnson’s victory Friday could set a massive precedent for thousands of other cases claiming Monsanto’s famous herbicide causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
The story is heartbreaking (and the CNN report includes graphic images).
Monsanto has vowed to appeal. But it’s plausible that the ruling will reshape the battle over glyphosate, the herbicide in Roundup, a weed-killer that most health experts believe is carcinogenic.
“This is a big victory for human health worldwide,” said Timothy Litzenburg, “the small-town attorney who took Monsanto for $289 million.”
Prosecco Growers Challenge Australian Labeling Practices
In the wake of a first round of trade talks between Australia and the European Union, the Brisbane Times reports this month that Italian wine growers want their Australian counterparts to stop labeling wines as “Prosecco.”
According to the Times article, Prosecco producers claim that the term “Prosecco” is a “geographic indication” (GI), inexorably linked to the place where it has been historically and traditionally produced.
“The Prosecco issue is one of the many skirmishes we could see if the EU seeks to expand the protection of GI to include a wider range of wine regions, as well as food and foodstuffs under the proposed new trade agreement,” said Lisa Chesters, member of the Australian House of Representatives.
“What’s next? It would be the equivalent of you can no longer call pizza ‘pizza.'”
Are Italians Self-Defeating in their Branding?
In an op-ed published this week on the Slow Food blog, Slow Food University law professor Michele Fino decries what he calls self-defeating branding practices that sully consumer perceptions.
In his piece (in Italian), he bemoans the many instances where leading commercial winemakers are incorporating branding language that evokes the word “Prosecco.”
Citing the use of the word “sec” in a Eastern European marketing campaign by a behemoth Piedmont sparkling wine producer, he argues that such strategies ultimately damage the reputation of Italian wine appellations by associating them with cheap, inferior mass-market products.
A sparkling wine labeled “Promosso,” bottled by a Prosecco producer, is another example, he writes. Italian sparkling wines labeled “Secco” are equally counterproductive (even for readers who don’t speak Italian, the images he includes are self-explanatory).
He calls these campaigns expressions of tafazzismo, Italian “masochism” as embodied by the popular 1990s television character Tafazzi (a mime, dressed in black and wearing an athletic supporter, constantly beating his genitals with a plastic bottle).
Prosecco, “a small village in Trieste province,” he notes, “is the most famous name in sparkling wine production throughout the world.”
“It’s only right that we raise a glass to its international success… But we should also try to understand what we want to achieve — all of us together and without vacillation. Regulation is urgently needed” (translation mine).
Top image via Mike Mozart’s Flickr (Creative Commons).