Burger King Outlets Denialism on Climate Change Encourage 24 Hour Drive-thru

Burger chain’s climate change whopper

burgerking

Tennessee outlets ended up eating humble pie after a local reporter spotted ‘rogue’ signs outside Burger King outlets

Burger King outlets in Tennessee calls global warming ‘baloney’. Photograph: http://www.memphisflyer.com

Would you like a side order of climate denial with your flame-broiled Triple Whopper? If so, then you need to get yourself over to Tennessee where a number of Burger King franchises in the US state that gave us Al Gore have been displaying “Global Warming is Baloney” signs outside their fast-food restaurants.

Chris Davis, a staff writer for the Memphis Flyer, a local newsweekly, noticed the signs outside two Burger Kings in the city last week and decided to put in a call to one of the restaurants to inquire whether such a view was now official Burger King policy. Here’s his transcript of the call…

Davis: Hi, I’m calling from the Flyer about your sign. Does Burger King really think global warming is baloney?
BK: [Hang-up]
Davis: [Calling back]: Your sign out front says global warming is baloney.
BK: I don’t see that, sir.
Davis: Well, it does.
BK: I don’t see that sir… I change the signs and that sign’s been up for a week.
Davis: Well, I have pictures that I took this afternoon…So, there’s no question that your sign said it and so did one in Midtown. I want to know if it was on purpose, or if it was a prank someone pulled on you.
BK: Let me get the manager. [several minutes of dead air then the same or very similar voice picks up.]
BK: Who were you holding for?
Davis: A manager, about the sign. I have pictures of the sign and people have called me upset. I just want to know if it’s a mistake or not so I can report it.
BK: Let me go outside and look at the sign and I’ll call you right back. [exchange of contact info]
[Phone rings, Davis answers]
BK: The sign was put up yesterday.
Davis: And it’s not a mistake?
BK: No.
Davis: It reflects the opinion of BK international?
BK: Yes. Would you like to talk to the home office? I can give you a number.
Davis: I’ve got the number, I’ve already contacted them. Thanks.

A few days pass before Davis hears back from someone higher up the food chain at Burger King. Last Friday, he finally received an email from Susan Robison, the vice president of corporate communications at the Burger King Corporation:

This statement [“Global Warming is baloney”] does not reflect a Burger King Corp. (BKC) opinion or view. The two restaurants where these signs appeared are independently owned and operated and were not authorized to display this statement. The signs have since been removed. BKC believes in operating as a socially responsible company and is committed to making a positive impact in the communities where it lives and works.

One imagines that someone at Burger King realised that the “global warming is baloney” line didn’t exactly chime with the views of John Chidsey, the company’s CEO, who believes that climate change is “an overriding issue of importance for the global community, business community and people in general”, as he stated in this short interview conducted at this year’s World Economic Forum. (How he squares this concern with his company’s drive-thru, meat-munching business model is another matter, though.)

Memphis Flyer readers have been contacting the paper since the story first appeared to say that they have noticed other restaurants across Tennessee displaying the same sign. It appears that they are all owned by a company called the Mirabile Investment Corporation (MIC) that owns more than 40 Burger Kings across Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, as well as a handful of Popeyes and All In One franchises. Some readers have added that the signs are still up at some of the restaurants. Davis says he has requested a response from MIC, but has not yet received one.

I applaud their honesty, though. I think we should know what a restaurant’s position is on the key issues of the day before we choose to step across their threshold. Let’s go the full hog – I want to know their views on immigration, cap and trade, MPs expenses, schooling, the Middle East’s roadmap, Susan Boyle and stem cell research before I even reach the menu board outside. Maybe there’s room in the fast-food sector for a politically-themed chain of restaurants? How about we call it Hard To Swallow?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2009/jun/01/burger-king-climate-change-whopper

Pollution Can Change Your DNA in 3 Days, Study Suggests

Pollution Can Change Your DNA in 3 Days, Study Suggests

Ker Than
for National Geographic News

May 17, 2009

Breathing in polluted air may wreak havoc on our DNA, reprogramming genes in as few as three days and causing increased rates of cancer and other diseases.

So says a new study that tracked DNA damage in 63 steel-foundry workers in Brescia, Italy, who, under their normal factory conditions, were exposed to particulate matter.

The same damage may occur in city dwellers exposed to normal air, the researchers say.

Particulate matter includes suspended, tiny bits of dust, metal, or soot in the air, which can lodge deep in the lungs. Exposure to the substance has been linked to respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and heart problems.

Scientists know little about how inhaling particulate matter can cause health problems, according to lead study author Andrea Baccarelli of the University of Milan.

But they did find that exposed workers’ DNA was damaged by a slowed rate of “methylation,” a biological process in which genes are organized into different chemical groups.

Fewer groups means that fewer genes are expressed—or made into proteins—a crucial process in the body’s regular maintenance.

(Learn how DNA works.)

Reduced-size gene groups like the ones observed in the new study have also been found in the blood DNA of lung cancer patients.

Widespread Damage

In the study, the workers’ blood was sampled on the morning of the first day of their workweeks—before they were heavily exposed to the foundry’s air—and again a few days later.

Comparisons between the two samples revealed significant changes in the methylation of four genes that may suppress tumors, said Baccarelli, who presented his research May 17 at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego, California.

You might not have to be a steelworker to sustain this kind of genetic damage, Baccarelli added.

It’s true that air near the steel foundry contains about ten times more particulate matter than ambient—or normal—air, and a larger fraction of foundry-air particles are metals.

But the team speculates that the same damage can occur in city dwellers—the effects, however, take weeks or months to show up.

For instance, Baccarelli has done previous research that shows elderly people in Boston had DNA damage from breathing in particulate matter.

But Baccarelli added that “our results need to be confirmed in air pollution studies before they can be extended to the general population.”

(Related: “Scentless Spring? Flower Smells Blocked by Pollution.”)

Take Your Vitamins?

John Heffner is professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University and a past president of the American Thoracic Society.

The new study strengthens the link between particulate inhalation and lung cancer, said Heffner, who did not participate in the research.

“Other investigators have shown that inhalation of particulate matter affects DNA through the methylation process,” he said.

“What these investigators have done is show that the genes affected are ones that are known to be related to the development of lung cancer.”

Related work by Baccarelli’s team also raises the possibility that methylation damage from particulate matter can be slowed or even reversed with folic acid, a vitamin naturally found in many foods.

The vitamin “may make methylation machineries more efficient,” lead study author Baccarelli said.

“We found that subjects with higher intakes of methyl nutrients were protected from some of the cardiac effects of particulate matter.”

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/05/090517-pollution-changes-dna_2.html

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