BP Sending Gulf Coast Chefs to Olympics to Tout Louisiana Cuisine It Destroyed
Monday, July 30, 2012
Chef John Folse (photo-Anne Parr)
In a stunning display of chutzpah, oil giant BP, whose focus on profits and “complacency on major hazards” led to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that spewed 205 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, is sending eight Louisiana and Gulf Coast chefs, including John Folse and Michael Sichel, to London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games to give the host city a “dash of spice.” BP, whose corporate sponsorship of the Olympics has already provoked protests in London and a campaign to remove it as an Olympic sponsor, is holding a series of “Spirit of the Gulf” events to encourage people to visit the Gulf Coast, and “sample the world’s freshest and best-tasting seafood and experience the Gulf’s unique culture and distinctive attractions.”
Meanwhile, two years after the spill, the Gulf of Mexico still suffers from the oil. In a study released in April, scientists found high levels of four toxic heavy metals—vanadium, cobalt, chromium, and lead—in the shells and soft tissues of Gulf oysters. A second study found that the oil spill accelerated the loss of marshlands along the Gulf—a serious threat to the ecosystems where so many Gulf Coast delicacies, including shrimp, crawfish, oysters, clams and fish, hatch their young. A third study found drastic changes in the microbes that live among grains of sand on beaches, which could imply long-term damage to the base of the Gulf’s food chain.
BP clearly sees this Olympic venture as a chance to push its PR, even if the facts don’t support its spin. Ray Melick, BP director of Gulf coast media communications, told the Montgomery Advertiser that “this was a good opportunity to bring these chefs’ seafood flavors to that stage, reminding everyone that the Gulf Coast is alive and well, and that the seafood is the most-tested and best-tasting anywhere.” As the studies cited above show, that message of “Everything’s fine in the Gulf” is not borne out by the scientific evidence.
To Learn More:
BP Sends Gulf Chefs to Olympics on a PR Jaunt (by Tom Philpott, Mother Jones)
BP Sends Gulf Coast Chefs to London (by Alex Woodward, Gambit)
Scientists Find Higher Concentrations of Heavy Metals in Post-Oil Spill Oysters from Gulf of Mexico (California Academy of Sciences)
BP Oil Spill Hastened Loss of Louisiana Marshes, Study Says (by Brian Vastag, Washington Post)
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