Amazon.com, ranked at #9 among U.S. retail brands on Interbrand's new Best Retail Brands report, has found itself in hot water with environmentalists.
The Seattle-based company “allows” (or at least has turned a blind eye to) its Japanese website to "traffic in whale and dolphin products,” according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Whaling has been illegal since 1982. Britain's the Mirror states that “animal rights groups found 147 illegal items advertised including whale curry, whale bacon, whale stew and tinned whale hamburger” on the site. That's right: whale burgers.
“By allowing vendors to sell whale products it is effectively helping to prop up a trade that should have been consigned to the history books,” stated Clare Perry, a spokesperson for the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which put out a press release today to draw attention to the matter, along with the graphic video below asking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to put a stop to the sale of the endangered species' meat. Consumers are being asked to boycott Amazon, too.
EIA president Allan Thornton added in a statement:
"Amazon.com has a clear policy of banning trade in endangered and threatened species but is turning a blind eye to commercial trade in whale products from endangered and threatened whales on its Japanese website. We are appealing to Jeff Bezos and Amazon to ensure that Amazon's ban includes all trade in products from whales, dolphins and porpoises across all of Amazon's websites."
EIA investigators purchased eight whale products from Amazon.co.jp in 2011, including canned whale meat, whale jerky, whale bacon and whale stew. Analysis revealed six of them to have mercury levels exceeding the Japanese national limit for mercury in seafood of 0.4 parts per million and one had a staggering mercury level of 20ppm, which is 50 times the safe limit. "Amazon says 'we're constantly looking for ways to further reduce our environmental impact' – banning these harmful products is an easy way for Amazon to show genuine commitment to this principle, while protecting its customers."
The organization's press release added that one-third of the 147 products were not listed with a species name, contrary to the requirements of Japan's labelling laws. Since many of these products originate from Taiji, where 10 times more dolphins are killed than whales, it is likely Amazon Japan is selling dolphin products mislabelled as "whale." "The vast majority of Americans and nations around the globe oppose the commercial slaughter of whales," commented Kitty Block, vice president of Humane Society International. "Profiting from the killing of whales is a dirty business which no reputable company should be involved."
The Economic Voice reports that Amazon blew it on another front as well: “EIA investigators that bought these products from Amazon Japan in 2011 found that six of the eight they purchased had mercury levels that exceeded the Japanese national limit of 0.4 parts per million. In fact one sample was found to contain a mercury level of 20 ppm, about 50 times the safe limit.
All this from a company that’s headquartered near where Free Willy took place.
Amazon Sells Whale Meat from EIA on Vimeo.