Weighty issues were on the agenda of more than one summit meeting this month. In Buenos Aires, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) met to discuss, among other issues, frogs, or more specifically their legs. According to International Wildlife Magazine, during their April 22 to May 3 meeting, the conventioneers discussed whether killing the Asian bullfrog -- whose legs show up on restaurant plates from Paris to Pittsburgh -- is "an ecological time bomb."
The situation, according to the magazine, is this: The frog trade is big business in countries such as Bangladesh and India, where a hefty percentage of the 200 million frogs that are eaten annually are harvested. But the frogs live in rice fields, where they are the natural predators of the insects that eat the rice. Removing frogs increases the amount of insects, possibly increasing the chances of malaria and already forcing countries to step up the amounts of pesticides they use.
The solution? According to Emily Mead, communications assistant of the World Wildlife Fund, CITES conferees ended up voting that all frog exporting countries must obtain permits to do so -- a way to monitor the trade. Another proposal being discussed is to ban the import of frog legs into the European Economic Community, according to International Wildlife. And Manfred Niekisch, project coordinator for a World Wildlife Fund campaign in West Germany, offers possibly the best solution:
"Let the frogs keep their legs."