August, 2007 | Food & Water Watch
Victory! Cleveland passes resolution against antibiotic misuse on factory farms. more wins »
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Blog Posts: August 2007

August 31st, 2007

Podcast Takes August Vacation

The Food & Water Watch podcast has been on hiatus these last two weeks in August. Dry your tears because when it returns next week, it will take on a brand new identity.

Join us on Friday, September 7th for the debut of SnackCast: Audio Food for Thought. Be sure to subscribe to SnackCast on Feedburner or through iTunes now so you don’t miss anything.

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Got rBGH-free Milk?

This week there is even more good news in the campaign to Hold the Hormones – the Federal Trade Commission rejected a request from the corporate behemoth Monsanto Co. to prevent dairy companies from advertising their milk products as hormone-free.

Monsanto, the maker of Posilac or rBGH, urged the FTC to restrict labeling milk “rBGH-free”, claiming that the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of rBGH back in 1993.  Monsanto’s earlier objections to labeling already resulted in the FDA-required label disclaimer below.

However, there are ongoing questions about links between the Monsato-produced hormone and cancer in humans. As a result, most industrialized countries in the world have banned the hormone, including Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and all 27 countries in the European Union.  Although rBGH is not banned in the United States, the majority of American consumers want clear labeling for rBGH-free milk. In a poll conducted earlier this year for Food & Water Watch, 80% of consumers want milk from cows not treated with the hormone to be labeled‚ rBGH-free”. Some companies have started listening to consumers.

Several large dairy product companies and many small ones no longer accept milk from cows treated with rBGH, citing increased consumer demand for hormone-free dairy products. Consumers are starting to incorporate ethical, environmental, and health considerations in their purchasing decisions and need accurate information – both in advertising and labeling – to make informed choices for themselves and their families.

- Erin Greenfield
emailbio

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August 27th, 2007

Victory!

Starbucks Coffee Company has finally decided to hold the hormones. On Friday, Starbucks committed to make 100% of the chain‚ milk supply free of artificial growth hormones by December 31, 2007.
The Starbucks announcement follows nearly two years of pressure from yours truly, which launched the Hold the Hormones Campaign in 2006, asking all of you to demand that the company buy better milk. Thanks to the thousands of emails, phone calls, and rallies by all you consumers out there, Starbucks CEO Jim Donald has decided to do the right thing.

So be sure to don your cow suit and party with all of the biscotti and rBGH-free lattes you can handle! In between lattes, please make it a point to call Starbucks at 1-800-235-2883 to thank Jim for a job well done.

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August 22nd, 2007

Rock On, Italy

We believe that water is a common resource to which we all have an equal right and a responsibility to protect. So does Italy.

In Rome on July 10, the Italian Water Movements Forum delivered to the President of the Chamber 406,626 signatures asking for the whole re-nationalization of the water sector. See, it works like this: In Italy, in order to present a law proposal to the Parliament, it is necessary to collect signatures. If citizens are able to collect at least 50,000 signatures, then the Parliament has the obligation to discuss their law-proposal. Imagine their surprise when these citizens realized that they had collected eight times the number of signatures required by the Italian law!

The proposal that was presented to the Parliament contains these pertinent points:

  1. Water as human right;
  2. 50 free litres of water per person guaranteed;
  3. Property of the water systems shall be entirely public with management through agencies disciplined by public law;
  4. Participation of the local communities and the citizens to the public management of water;
  5. The creation of a National Fund of solidarity and international cooperation for projects supporting the access to water.

How cool is this: they are beginning to discuss the foundation of a European Network of Movements in defense of water, like those that have already been created in the Americas and Africa. In Europe, the hostest with the mostest multinational water companies, the formation of a continental network will not only be beneficial for Europeans, but for all the rest of us as well.

Feeling motivated to do your part to ensure the right to water? Check out these useful resources:

Also, be sure to check out our podcast where we discuss Italy’s fabulous water movement.

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August 21st, 2007

Curb Your Carbon

Our pie-eaters on the Eat Well Guided Tour cut crust across the country. The bio-fueled bus carves through cow pastures in Chico, California; organic orchards in Gaston, Oregon; rolling wheat-fields surrounding Spokane, Washington; and now onto the mountains of Missoula, Montana.

The Sustainable Table and Food & Water Watch travelers are set apart from the typical Americans in their tasty trek. As passengers on the Eat Well Guided Tour, all the food they consume is locally farmed and cooked in an earth-conscious fashion. Thus our pie-eaters pave more miles to reach their plate than the actual meal ingredients, which usually are driven great distances before being whipped into delicacies. The typical food product slices at least 1500 miles to your mouth, according to Brian Halweil on an NPR Talk of the Nation interview , “How food finds its way to your plate.” In fact, it might be startling to learn that as a diners these days, we normally dig into dinners concocted with foods from five countries beyond US borders! Juicy fruit jetted from Chile, bananas boated from Belize, shrimp shipped in from Vietnamyou name it, we’re eating it.

So, with all of this food being whisked around the world and navigating around our nation, whose keeping track? Do you know how many miles your food is fueled before it flops on your plate? And how much fossil fuel does it really take to feed our nation? This isnt just food for thought, its about planning for the future sustainability of our people and of our planet.

Check out ‚Watch your (Fo)odometer”, a recent cartoon production release by videonation provides some useful facts and figures before you bite into your next feast. And with so much debate about the eat-local movement, remember to continue to chow down on regional fare.

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August 20th, 2007

Public Transportation, Anyone?

Beijing has a 4-day scheme to take roughly 1.3 million vehicles off of the road, all in the name of the Olympics. From August 17-20, cars with even- and odd-numbered plates will be allowed on the roads on alternating days to see whether the city can reduce the air pollution for the 2008 Olympics.

Stateside, Maryland Governor Martin OMalley is discussing the state‚ initiative to make all of its vehicles (roughly 9,000) more eco,friendly.

Were all (hopefully) interested in reducing our carbon footprint. And yes, biofuels are being presented as the way to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to develop homegrown energy that reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but did you realize that corn-based ethanol is not the answer?

Ethanol tailpipe emissions can reduce some greenhouse gases, but also can increase levels of others. As you may have guessed, corn farming and ethanol production are not emissions free. When fossil fuels are used to power ethanol refineries, they can lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions than the fossil fuel that ethanol is supposed to replace.

And did you know that ethanol production is often tied to factory farming of livestock? Ethanol plants produce byproducts that can be used as feed for animals, while factory farms can sell animal manure as fuel for ethanol plants. Sounds like a win-win situation, but these so-called synergies have the potential to seriously affect environmental quality, human health, and communities throughout entire regions.

Bummer.

Be an informed eco-minded consumer. Read our latest report, The Rush to Ethanol: Not all BioFuels are Equal. And, be sure to check out the correlation between corn-fed factory farms and the farm bill.

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August 17th, 2007

Just 3 Days Left to Weigh In on Country-of-Origin Labeling

Consumers and family farmers and ranchers have been fighting for years to require labeling about where food comes from. Now, after months of headlines about tainted food imports and years of delay by Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is starting to write the rules for how the labeling program will work for meat and produce and is asking for comments about the existing rules for seafood.

Click here to tell USDA to write rules that cover as much food as possible. Specifically, USDA should limit exemptions for “processed” foods and allow farmers, ranchers, and fishermen to use common sense record keeping systems to keep costs down.

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Italy, Columbia and Factory Farms

Welcome to Issue 10 of the Food & Water Watch podcast. In this issue, the Italian Water Movements Forum moves closer to introducing a legislative initiative to maintain public control of water in Italy; possible attempts to exempt manure from factory farms from environmental cleanup laws; and a tour in Columbia aimed at including the right to water in that nation’s constitution.

The Food & Water Watch podcast is updated each Friday. Tune in each week for news on the fight to stop corporate control of food and water.

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August 16th, 2007

Voices from the Road: Eat Well Guided Tour

Several Food & Water Watch staff are on the road this month with the Eat Well Guided Tour of America. We’re pleased to provide occasional updates from the road.  Excerpted from Pie in the Sky Carnival by Erin:

So many pies to eat, so little time. At least that‚ what it seemed like at the Pie in the Sky Carnival in Liberty Lake, Washington. After settling into Spokane for a few hours, we journeyed to Liberty Lake on our bus, and we felt like the most popular vehicle on the road. The ride lasted only 20 minutes, but the whole way there people were honking their horns and waving to us. Looks like our reputation precedes us! . . .

. . .  A local folk band called The Blue Ribbon Tea Company played throughout the two hours of the event, and even helped out with the Pie Walk. For those of you unfamiliar with a traditional Pie Walk, it is very similar to Musical Chairs , except the chairs are replaced with numbers on the floor, and when the music stops, a number is drawn from a hat to determine the winner of a whole pie.  Whole families participated, including one woman with her baby in one hand, and her dog in the other. There were also a few pie making demonstrations throughout the evening, and our very own raffle to win a ‚Take Back the Tap” water bottle from Food & Water Watch. Our table was very popular at the event, and we certainly made some new friends here in Spokane. This was one of the best turnouts weve had, and we know it will just keep getting better and better.

If you are not already tracking the tour, you can do so at www.sustainabletable.org.

“You are where you eat!”

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August 15th, 2007

Bridge the Gap for Clean Water Funding

The Minneapolis bridge collapse shook the nation into a debate over highway funding and rekindled concern over the aging infrastructure America depends on not just as part of daily life but for the continued economic growth and prosperity of the nation. But as we descend into the rubble to repair and recover from tragedy and shock, we should reflect that while the ribbons of highway paving our nation may be our most visibly aging and deteriorating structures, what lies beneath the roads in pipes and wastewater treatment facilities pose a threat to the safety and security of our communities. As described by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) in a recent interview on NPR:

[It is the] entire framework of infrastructure in this country that is aging and it is going to require a tremendous amount of funding to maintain it and that does not even include what we are going to need to enhance our infrastructures to not only keep us safe but productive Americans.

Eighty six percent of our homes use public water utilities to provide us clean and safe drinking water and to protect our neighborhoods and environment from sewage pollution.  However our nation‚ clean water utilities tie with transportation infrastructure at the back of the class, receiving a D-rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

How then can we win back our water, preserve our pipes and prevent more pollution? How can we deliver consistent funding to ensure safe, sustainable clean water facilities not destined for destruction?

In recent days, delegates have been deliberating on how to divvy dollars for road rehabilitation, toying with public-private funding mechanisms. However, for water and sewer spending, Food & Water Watch calls for a clear and consistent cash source by way of a public Clean Water Trust Fund. No more yearly bickering over budget bucks, our families need a commitment from the federal government that America will finance public facilities for our future.

Join the movement to protect America‚ water. Tell congress to provide the funds needed to protect our water sources and keep our water clean and safe.

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