Fighting Big Food's Deceptive Marketing Campaign
Last month, the City of San Francisco filed a lawsuit against Monster Beverage over the marketing of the company’s highly caffeinated products to youth children. This is just the latest example of using the legal system to hold the food and beverage industries accountable for deceptive marketing practices.
With the federal government all but ignoring the numerous ways food companies deceive shoppers with dubious health claims, the courts are becoming a more popular alternative for action.
As you may recall from civics class, we have three branches of government, and when two of them—the executive and the legislative—have essentially checked out, that leaves only one place to turn for a legal remedy: the judiciary. Despite years of brainwashing by the right wing about the evils of trial lawyers, litigation is a critical and yet underutilized tool for obtaining justice under a broken and compromised political system.
Under both federal and state law, it’s illegal to engage in deceptive marketing. This is a broad concept that applies to any entity that advertises. The idea is that consumers should not be swindled into buying a product; they deserve the straight facts to make informed purchasing decisions. And while such laws do help deter shady activities, deceptive marketing statutes get violated all the time, mostly due to lack of enforcement.
It may be unsettling to realize that on grocery store shelves right now are likely hundreds of food products that contain illegal deceptive claims. While the federal government does have specific definitions for some phrases such as “low fat” or “low salt,” otherwise almost anything goes on the front of a food package because the feds have turned a blind eye. Without proper government oversight, the only recourse is for private law firms to set these companies straight.
Here are some examples of deceptive food marketing cases currently gaining traction. (Full disclosure, I am a consultant for Reese Richman, one of the law firms bringing such cases.)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is unwilling to provide useful guidance on the definition of “natural,” resulting in ubiquitous use of the word by marketers, no matter how nutritionally deficient the product. Factor in the growing interest in organic along with consumer confusion over that label’s meaning and you have a marketing bonanza in “natural” food.
Some lawsuits are being filed over products sporting the natural label that contain genetically engineered ingredients. Two such examples are ConAgra’s line of Wesson cooking oils and Frito-Lay’s snack products. To back up their claims, lawyers are even relying on Monsanto’s own definition of genetically-modified organisms (GMO): “Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.”
In a positive development in the ConAgra case last November, the judge found that the plaintiffs adequately described “why genetically-modified products cannot be considered natural” and “they understood that the phrase '100% Natural' meant that Wesson Oil was not made from genetically modified organisms, and that they purchased the product based on this false understanding.” This is a huge step forward for these types of cases.
In a similar action against Frito-Lay, the court recently made a preliminary ruling in favor of the plaintiff allowing the case to move forward. In its defense, Frito-Lay argued that no reasonable consumer would expect the phrase “all natural” to actually refer to all of the ingredients in the product. The court disagreed, since a reasonable consumer could interpret “all natural” to mean, um, all natural.
Such cases have tremendous potential to rock the processed food world, given how many products containing GMO ingredients are currently touting the meaningless natural label. Moreover, with increasing calls for mandatory GMO labeling at both the federal and state levels, along with voluntary retailer actions from the likes of Whole Foods, this issue is not going away anytime soon.
Other cases challenging the natural label are over products containing ingredients that are obviously not natural. One such lawsuit is against the Kellogg-owned Kashi GoLean brand of products. From the complaint:
For example, Kashi’s All Natural GoLean Shakes are composed almost entirely of synthetic and unnaturally processed ingredients, including sodium molybdate, phytonadione, sodium selenite, magnesium phosphate, niacinamide, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamin hydrochloride, potassium iodide and other substances that have been declared to be synthetic substances by federal regulations.
Not sounding very natural. The judge has allowed this case to move forward.
Products Aimed at Children
Marketing to children qualifies as illegal deception because a child cannot understand how marketing works. What could be more deceptive than taking advantage of a child’s emotional vulnerability? Unfortunately, we have zero enforcement of this obvious legal violation due to weak-kneed government officials, once again leaving it up to the court system.
To date only one lawsuit has been filed directly challenging marketing to children—against McDonald’s over Happy Meals—an obvious target. The case was brought by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the only nutrition advocacy group with a litigation department. (This helps explain why this tool is so underutilized.) Unfortunately, the judge dismissed the case last year. While suing over marketing to children does face certain procedural challenges, with the right venue and strategy, I am hopeful we can gain traction in time.
In lieu of directly challenging food makers for targeting children, another strategy emerging is suing over child-oriented products that make deceptive health claims. One such example is the General Mills’ product, Fruit Roll-Ups.
Also filed by Center for Science in the Public Interest, this case took the company to task for its claims their products were “fruit flavored,” “naturally flavored,” a “good source of vitamin C,” and low in calories, fat and gluten. (Seriously, low in gluten?) In December, this case was settled when General Mills agreed to stop using the most egregious practices; for example, no longer putting images of strawberries on a product that contained none. Duh.
Taking the prize in the chutzpah line of cases is Coca-Cola’s vitaminwater brand. This lawsuit alleges deceptive marketing for positioning the product as a health tonic, when some varieties contain a whopping 33 grams of sugar (in 20 ounces), among other unhealthful ingredients such as dyes. That case has also been allowed to move forward, despite Coca-Cola’s desperate argument that “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage," a claim that was skillfully ripped apart by John Robbins and as well as hilariously pilloried by Stephen Colbert.
Another product deserving a chutzpah award is Chobani yogurt, a brand that has taken on near-iconic status in the most health-washed category of all. Chobani is being sued over its “all-natural” claim (among other statutory violations) because the label lists “evaporated cane juice,” which is just a fancy way of saying sugar. This, despite the FDA’s explicit warning to food makers not to use the phrase because the accurate description of the ingredient is actually “dried cane syrup.” But juice sounds so much more “natural” than syrup.
In a recent Twitter exchange, I had some fun with the poor social media person at Chobani. Despite the lawsuit, the company continues to use the phrase “evaporated cane juice.” When I asked why not just call it sugar, the reply was: “It’s specifically the form we use. Not all sugars are created equal.” But I got no response when I next tried to ask exactly how their sweetener was any different from sugar. (Maybe the lawyers got hold of the Twitter account.)
Rounding out the chutzpah category is Nutella, which got in legal trouble for advertising its dessert-like product as healthy breakfast. Although the case was settled for $3 million, it was also the subject of some ridicule by those who thought it was obvious that Nutella is a treat. But that critique misses the point: under the law, companies are not allowed to market its junk food products as healthful. In a seminal case against Gerber for deceptively marketing children’s “fruit snacks,” the company tried to use the Nutrition Facts label as a defense, since the ingredients and amount of sugar are clearly listed there. But the judge explained that information being available elsewhere (like on the back of the package) does not make it OK for a company to deceive consumers in other ways, such as on the front of the package or in ads.
While litigation represents an important tool for holding food companies responsible, there are also numerous challenges. For example, the strategy requires targeting one product or line of products at a time, which is not the most efficient approach for sweeping change. However, strategic selection of the worst (and largest) offenders can send a strong message to an entire industry.
Another limitation is how long the court process can take: often several years just to get through the preliminary phase. And, corporate defense lawyers are skillful at dragging out the process in hopes the plaintiffs will give up. Finally, the results are sometimes less than ideal. Most cases end in settlement because they are too costly to bring to trial, and negotiation necessitates compromise.
But given the widespread health-washing by a desperate food industry at a time when the American public is starting to realize that actual fruit may be a healthier option than Fruit Loops, litigation is a critical, if imperfect, tool.
Why Get Involved in Litigation?
Advocacy groups engaged in the good food movement should take notice. While major foundations may be too skittish to fund litigation, organizations can still team up with private lawyers to bring more of these sorts of cases. Nonprofits can play different roles such as: 1) offering specific expertise as consultants; 2) asking their members to serve as plaintiffs; 3) being a named plaintiff themselves in certain types of actions; or 4) serving as co-counsel.
Perhaps the best motivator for a nonprofit group to get involved in litigation is the potential for being awarded part of a “cy pres” fund: money set aside in a settlement for nonprofits doing good work that is sufficiently related to the case. Several good projects got their start with cy pres money, including a California-based group called CANFIT, which works with adolescents around health and nutrition. That settlement fund was from a deceptive marketing case against Kraft Foods, and some 20 years later the group is still going strong.
We have our work cut out for us with so much deception in the marketplace, but with better coordination and teamwork, we can make real progress through the legal system. It’s a shame that we have to turn to the courts at all, but that’s the political reality right now. Someone has to hold the food industry accountable.
By Bill Sullivan
Black licorice may look and taste like an innocent treat, but this candy has a dark side. On Sept. 23, 2020, it was reported that black licorice was the culprit in the death of a 54-year-old man in Massachusetts. How could this be? Overdosing on licorice sounds more like a twisted tale than a plausible fact.
The Root of the Problem<p>The unfortunate man who recently succumbed to excessive black licorice consumption is not alone. There are a smattering of similar case reports in medical journals, in which patients experience <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26380428/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hypertension crisis</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.5414/cn107011" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">muscle breakdown</a> or even death. Adverse reactions are most frequently seen in people over the age of 40 who are eating far more black licorice than the average person. In addition, they are usually consuming the product for prolonged periods of time. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMcpc2002420" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In the most recent case</a>, the Massachusetts man had been eating a bag and a half of black licorice every day for three weeks.</p><p>Licorice is a flowering plant native to parts of Europe and Asia. Its scientific name, <em>Glycyrrhiza</em>, is derived from the Greek words "glykos" (sweet) and "rhiza" (root). The aromatic and sweet extract from its root has long been used as an herbal remedy for a wide variety of health maladies, from heartburn and stomach issues to sore throats and cough. However, there is <a href="https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/black-licorice-trick-or-treat" target="_blank">insufficient evidence to support that licorice is effective in treating any medical condition</a>.</p><p>Glycyrrhizin (also called glycyrrhizic acid) is the chemical in black licorice that gives the candy its signature flavor, but it also leads to its toxic effects.</p><p>Glycyrrhizin mimics the hormone <a href="https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/aldosterone/" target="_blank">aldosterone</a>, which is made by the adrenal glands when the body needs to retain sodium and excrete potassium. Sodium and potassium work together as a kind of cellular battery that drives communication between nerves and the contraction of muscles. Too much glycyrrhizin upsets the balance of these electrolytes, which can raise blood pressure and disturb the heart's rhythm. Other symptoms of excessive licorice intake include swelling, muscle pain, numbness and headache. Examination of the man who died from consuming too much licorice revealed that he had <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMcpc2002420" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dangerously low levels of potassium, consistent with glycyrrhizin toxicity.</a></p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMcpc2002420" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"></a>It should be noted that a number of licorice-based foods do not contain real licorice, but use a flavoring substitute called anise oil, which does not pose the dangers discussed here. In addition, despite its name, <a href="https://www.livestrong.com/article/537724-black-licorice-vs-red-licorice/" target="_blank">red licorice rarely contains licorice extract</a>. Instead, red licorice is infused with chemicals that impart its cherry or strawberry flavor.</p><p>Products that contain real licorice are usually labeled as such, and list licorice extract or glycyrrhizic acid among the ingredients. Be advised that some products, such as black jelly beans or Good & Plenty, are mixtures of different candies that contain both anise oil and licorice extract.</p>
Hidden Dangers That Increase Risk<p>Glycyrrhizin has the distinct licorice flavor and is <a href="https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Licorice" target="_blank">50 times sweeter than sugar</a> and has been used in other types of candy, soft drinks, tea, Belgian beers, throat lozenges and tobacco. This can make it challenging to keep track of how much glycyrrhizin has been consumed, and a combination of these products could trigger adverse effects.</p><p>Some people take dietary or health supplements that already contain licorice, which increases the risk of toxic effects from eating black licorice candy. Certain medications such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.5414/cn107011" target="_blank">hydrochlorothiazide</a> are diuretics that cause increased urination, which can lower potassium levels in the body. Glycyrrhizin also lowers potassium levels, further disrupting the balance of electrolytes, which can produce muscle cramps and irregular heart rhythms.</p><p>People with certain preexisting conditions are more susceptible to black licorice overdose.</p><p>For example, patients who already have low potassium levels (hypokalemia), high blood pressure or heart arrhythmia are likely to have greater sensitivity to the effects of excessive licorice. Those with liver or kidney deficiencies will also retain glycyrrhizin in their bloodstream for longer times, increasing their risk of experiencing its adverse effects.</p>
What to Do?<p>If you're a fan of black licorice, there is no need to ban it from your pantry. Eaten in small quantities from time to time, licorice poses no significant threat to otherwise healthy adults and children. But it is advisable to monitor your intake.</p><p>With Halloween approaching, be sure to remind your kids that candy is a "<a href="https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@global/documents/downloadable/ucm_305557.pdf" target="_blank">sometimes food</a>," especially the black licorice. The <a href="https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/black-licorice-trick-or-treat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">FDA has issued warnings</a> about the rare but serious effects of too much black licorice, advising that people avoid eating more than two ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks or longer. The agency states that if you have been eating a lot of black licorice and experience an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and contact your health care provider.</p><p>Some scientists have further cautioned against the routine use of licorice in the form of a dietary supplement or tea for its alleged health benefits. A <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/2042018812454322" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">review article from 2012</a> warned that "the daily consumption of licorice is never justified because its benefits are minor compared to the adverse outcomes of chronic consumption."</p>
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Material Revolutions: Shirts Made from Shellfish, Biodegradable Rum Bottles and Reusable Fast Food Containers
In the age of consumption, sustainability innovations can help shift cultural habits and protect dwindling natural resources. Improvements in source materials, product durability and end-of-life disposal procedures can create consumer products that are better for the Earth throughout their lifecycles. Three recent advancements hope to make a difference.
1. Allbirds Shirts Made From Shellfish<p>Sustainable sneaker start-up <a href="https://www.allbirds.com/pages/apparel" target="_blank">Allbirds</a> is known for its thoughtfulness for consumers and the environment. The four-year-old shoe company has become hugely popular by creating comfortable shoes made from responsibly sourced materials like tencel and wool, reported <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90565358/allbirds-new-clothing-line-includes-t-shirts-made-from-discarded-crab-shells" target="_blank">Fast Company</a>.</p><p>Recently, Allbirds launched its debut apparel line with garments for men and women made with eco-friendly materials that have a low carbon footprint, the report said.</p><p>Introduced along with the line is a new t-shirt material called "TrinoXO," which is made from wool and discarded snow crab shells from Canada's seafood industry, reported <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/20/sustainable-sneaker-start-up-allbirds-is-selling-sweaters-t-shirts.html" target="_blank">CNBC</a> and <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/20/business/allbirds-sustainable-apparel/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">CNN</a>. The shells are the "number two discarded resource on earth," Allbirds claims, reported <a href="https://www.menshealth.com/style/a34427585/allbirds-apparel-clothing-line-review/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Men's Health</a>.</p><p>"Discarded material is the holy grail when it comes to sustainable fibers," Jad Finck, Allbirds head of innovation and sustainability, told Fast Company. "It's far better for the environment than getting raw materials from scratch."</p><p>The shells have antimicrobial properties that keep clothes fresh even after hours of wear, without the need to add "extractive" materials like zinc or silver, Men's Health reported. This allows for longer periods of wear between washes, reducing clothes' environmental footprint.</p><p>"We knew we wanted to be a real brand, and had this vision that we'd be an innovation company first, and a product company second," co-founder Joey Zwillinger told <a href="https://www.vogue.com/article/allbirds-launches-clothing" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Vogue</a>. "And our products would solve problems for people in a natural way, and show the world that you don't have to compromise on the planet for amazing products."</p>
2. Bacardi Biodegradable Rum Bottles<p>By 2023, <a href="https://www.bacardi.com/us/en/" target="_blank">Bacardi</a> rum will be sold in 100% biodegradable bottles, <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201021005281/en/Bacardi-First-in-Fight-Against-Plastic-Pollution-With-100-Biodegradable-Spirits-Bottle" target="_blank">Business Wire</a> reported.</p><p>The alcohol giant is collaborating with Danimer Scientific, a leading developer of biodegradable products, to create the new bottles using the natural oils of plant seeds such as palm, canola and soy, the report said.</p><p>According to <a href="https://sports.yahoo.com/bacardi-to-make-100-biodegradable-spirits-bottle-124436841.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAE1Wl8ONNdph3ID8reylzGM8dbX575Mk96Jw6z3kHZaGjKCz_UgQgxH0Q1n3RNCzhOMBEZ7fAIf8iiOXLRtY9VVHNZsmb-w1VOJnGlzIbuwhmoBo_KOV4dba8FoWrkgmmwwCyQZnRoTL0Uda6HQ4pE5ewGWh2pwQzjS3gKAe1ynm" target="_blank">Yahoo Finance UK</a>, the new bottle will biodegrade in a wide range of environments, including compost, soil, freshwater and seawater. After 18 months, the bottle will disappear completely without leaving microplastics.</p><p>"Nodax PHA is one of the most promising eco-friendly materials in the world today because it delivers the biodegradability that consumers demand without losing the quality feel they receive from traditional plastic," said Danimer Scientific chief marketing & sustainability officer Scott Tuten, reported <a href="https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/bacardi-biodegradable-spirits-bottle-plastic-free-packaging" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Thrillist</a>. "The material provides the best of both worlds, and we look forward to working with Bacardí and incorporating PHA into their iconic packaging."</p><p>Bacardi is also creating a sustainably sourced paper bottle, Yahoo reported.</p><p>The manufacturing of both new bottle types will save energy over petroleum-based plastic ones. Bacardi plans to share the technology with competitors to help in the global fight against <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastic-pollution" target="_self">plastic pollution</a>, and aims to be 100% plastic-free by 2030, reported Thrillist.</p>
3. Burger King Reusable Fast Food Containers<p>Fast food giant <a href="https://www.bk.com/" target="_blank">Burger King</a> plans to launch reusable Whopper boxes and soda cups by next year. Partnering with TerraCycle's zero-waste packaging division Loop, Burger King will nudge customers to return the specialized packaging for hygienic washing and reuse, similar to how milk bottles used to be returned, reported <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/can-burger-kings-reusable-packaging-change-fast-food-forever-11603392581" target="_blank">MarketWatch</a>.</p><p>"During COVID, we have seen the environmental impact of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/air-pollution-food-delivery-plastic-waste-2648454324.html" target="_self">increased takeaway ordering</a>, which makes this initiative by Burger King all the more important," said Tom Szaky, TerraCycle and Loop CEO, according to MarketWatch.</p><p>Customers who don't feel comfortable can opt-out of the service, <a href="https://www.abc10.com/article/entertainment/television/programs/the-buzz-burger-king-to-test-reusable-packaging-in-2021/77-f01f1b70-05b7-436d-9971-a7dd6081249b" target="_blank">ABC News</a> reported. Those who are willing to try will be charged a small deposit upon purchase, and when the packaging is returned, they will receive a refund, reported <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/22/business/burger-king-reusable-packaging-sustainability/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">CNN</a>.</p><p>Burger King and TerraCycle are aiming for a container that can be used at least 100 times, reported <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90566995/burger-kings-new-whopper-packaging-isnt-greasy-cardboard-its-reusable" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Fast Company</a>.</p><p>"The benefit is, you're able to serve your guests without having to create that single-use item in the first place," Matt Banton, global head of innovation and sustainability at Burger King, told <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90566995/burger-kings-new-whopper-packaging-isnt-greasy-cardboard-its-reusable" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Fast Company</a>. "This product is durable enough to go through the system multiple times, so it's ultimately reducing our environmental impact, and minimizing the amount of single-use packaging that we have to produce as well."</p><p>Burger King has also committed to sourcing 100% of its customer packaging from renewable, recycled or certified outlets, and recycling all customer packaging at its restaurants in the United States and Canada by 2025, reported CNN.</p>
There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils will point you in the right direction.
The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
In 'Road Map for a More Sustainable Future,' NY Regulator Tells Banks to Consider Climate Risks in Planning
By Brett Wilkins
Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.