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Algal Blooms and Animal Ag

22 Jul 2021

Algal Blooms and Animal Ag

12:00pm - 1:00pm

2020 Hot Topics lectures

Featuring Claire Brown, The Counter

In the last four decades, harmful algal blooms have increasingly appeared in freshwater ecosystems across the United States during the summertime, forcing local officials to close beaches for swimming and poisoning local wildlife. At one point, an algal bloom in Lake Erie left Toledo residents without drinking water for days. These events are caused by several human-influenced factors, but advocates have increasingly pointed toward fertilizer from farms in the form of runoff and animal waste leaked from feedlots as a significant contributor. Despite the increasing frequency and toxicity of algal blooms, federal and state governments have done little to regulate farm waste. Fed up with the inaction, activists are starting to take matters into their own hands: In Toledo, for instance, one significant effort involved persuading voters to pass a Bill of Rights on behalf of Lake Erie, a unique piece of legislation that would grant rights to the body of water and empower local officials to act on behalf of the so-called "Rights of Nature." This presentation will take a look at evolving science of algal blooms, recent political battles over the future of farm pollution, and farming and infrastructure solutions that have the potential to mitigate the impact of these events. 

Claire Brown is a senior staff writer for The Counter, an independent nonprofit newsroom that covers the forces shaping how and what we eat. Her work has also appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, and The Intercept. Her work has prompted Congressional investigations, led to a major corporation increasing its wages, and inspired legislation introduced into the Senate. She is the 2021 ASPCA-sponsored Animal Law Media Fellow

Each lecture is worth one VBA CLE credit.
Lectures are free and open to the public.

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Questions? Concerns? Contact Courtney Collins at