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May 7th, 2009

Oh, Canada

Canada House flagsIn an economic catastrophe like the one the world is undergoing, the news that a federal government would spend millions of taxpayer dollars on bottled water may come as a bit of a shock. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening in Canada, despite the various efforts by multiple cities to ban the sales of bottled water in municipal-run buildings. Specifically, the federal government has spent more than $10 million in the last three years, and over $15 million in the last five years. All while First Nations and other areas in Canada do not receive appropriate funding for tap water treatment.

water bottlesThe situation Canada faces is not unlike the bottled water problem in the United States. Both nations have flawed water infrastructure and spend millions of taxpayer dollars on bottled water instead , which is an exorbitantly expensive, and unnecessary, solution. The misconception that bottled water is, by default, safer than tap water, seems to justify paying such absurd prices. The money could be far better spent improving our crumbling water infrastructure, such as through a Clean Water Trust Fund, or its Canadian equivalent in the case of our neighbor, than by funneling that money into bottled water companies.

- Sofía Baliño

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Swine flu: an unfortunate wake up call

Swine flu, or the H1N1 virus, has dominated every major news outlet for the past couple of weeks , and justly so. It has sickened over a thousand people, killed almost thirty, and created widespread panic that has crippled the travel industry and damaged the already floundering world economy.

factory farm pigMuch of the chatter revolving around swine flu is whether or not it was a result of the conditions at a factory farm in Mexico owned in part by Smithfield. While there has been no definitive link established to the factory farm, this flu strain did have its genetic root in flu strains present on hog farms in the 1990s, according to virologists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

If anything positive has come out of this mess, it‚ that some long-overdue attention is being paid to the potential public health impacts of industrialized livestock production. Before swine flu became a household word communities all over this country, and increasingly around the world, have been burdened with health problems caused by these polluting facilities. Read the full article…

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May 5th, 2009

Tap Water Gets New Converts

NYC - Cavalry Episcopal ChurchThe bottled water fight is getting some new supporters. 12 Episcopal bishops from six Western states have recently joined together to fight bottled water and other environmental ills. Specifically, they signed a letter encouraging delegates coming to the Church‚ upcoming General Convention to not buy bottled water and choose tap instead. They also asked their Church‚ followers to vote for political candidates that support environmentally sound policies.

The Episcopal Church is not the only religious group appealing to its followers , this past Lent, some Italian dioceses of the Catholic Church also urged people to give up bottled water during the 40-day period. The initiative of these Churches is admirable and should be taken on by other communities to correct the various misconceptions associated with bottled water. Read the full article…

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May 4th, 2009

Produce on the Loose! Where have your groceries been?

Last week, Food & Water Watch launched a new online interactive tool for you to learn more about where your produce is coming from. The tool is called the “Global Grocer,” and it was inspired by a recent Food & Water Watch report entitled The Poisoned Fruit of American Trade Policy.

Global GrocerWhy is it so important to know where your produce is coming from? It’s because, as discussed in the report, Americans are now buying more imported produce than ever before. The concern with that comes from some countries not having equivalent food safety standards, combined with the Food & Drug Administration inspecting less than one percent of food shipments coming into the country. In addition, country-of-origin labeling rules have enough loopholes in them that much of this produce goes unlabeled.

Global Grocer Front PageSo what exactly is the “Global Grocer”? It is a virtual supermarket, in which you can fill your shopping cart with a variety of fruits and vegetables, and then learn the probabilities of those products being imported and where from. In other words, it is a fun and informative way to learn about food safety, and find out which are the smart decisions to make while shopping for produce.

To give the “Global Grocer” a test drive, you can check it out here. We would also like to thank Poccuo, a local Washington, DC company, for helping us put this project together. Enjoy!

- Food & Water Watch

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May 1st, 2009

Lifting Up the Voices of Latin America’s Water Movements

We are proud to announce the release of Changing the Flow: Water Movements in Latin America.Food & Water Watch has been working with allies in Latin America since our founding, primarily through our membership in and support of the Red VIDA (la Red de Vigilancia Interamericana por el Derecho y Defensa del Agua, often translated as the InterAmerican Network for the Defense of the Right to Water). Red VIDA has over 60 member groups from Canada to Colombia and from Uruguay to the United States, and represents many facets of the water movement: labor unions, consumer rights groups, social movements, environmental human rights organizations, water service providers, and more. Read the full article…

April 28th, 2009

Water victories on the rise

From the university level to entire metropolitan areas to Major League Baseball, the past couple of weeks have shown a couple of major victories on the bottled water front. On the smaller end of the scale, Belmont University recently chose to ban bottled water sales on campus, effective May 16th. While the loss of bottled water sales may decrease campus revenue, it will ultimately save students money, considering that bottled water can cost hundreds to thousands more times than tap water. Belmont is also setting the example by setting up water refill stations in the commissaries and installing water filters in fountains, helping ease the transition back to tap water. Well done, Belmont!

Taking it to another level, the city council of Vancouver, Canada, recently voted to eliminate bottled water for staff and council functions and, in the near future, to remove it from city concession stands. Similar decisions have been passed in the other parts of Canada, including the town of Georgina – along with several other municipalities in Ontario. We can only hope that this trend begins to establish itself within the U.S. Read the full article…

April 27th, 2009

"Close, but no cigar" – Another attempt to make bottled water appear safer than it really is

A 100% biodegradable water bottle? Brilliant. But marketing that as the cure for all bottled water woes? Misleading. AQUAMANTRA recently came out with such a bottle in honor of Earth Day, claiming that with this new biodegradable bottle, “everyone can feel good about drinking bottled water again.” Not so fast! While it is a step in the right direction, it only deals with one of the many problems that revolve around bottled water. The bottled water issue involves far more than just recycling, or the lack thereof. It‚ primarily an issue about consumer safety and about how its producers charge exorbitant amounts for something that you could just as easily get by turning on your tap, at a small fraction of the price. Read the full article…

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April 24th, 2009

Farmer Suicides in India Tied to Debt, Drought, Industrial Agriculture

According to reports, 1,500 farmers in India have committed suicide after drought and crop failures made it impossible to repay loans for agrochemicals and seeds.  The high cost of industrial farm inputs often puts small farmers in the developing world on a treadmill of mounting debt , one crop failure away from losing their family‚ land.  These pressures can be higher for farmers in India that have adopted even more expensive genetically modified seeds for crops like cotton.

The New York Times reported in 2006 that genetically modified cotton seeds can cost farmers twice as much, doubling the household debt and making a successful crop that much more urgent.  When these crops fail, indebted farmers can take their own lives and strand their families.  The United Kingdom‚ Prince Charles has championed the plight of farmers driven to debt and despair by high-cost genetically modified seeds. Read the full article…

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April 23rd, 2009

GE Crops: Not the bargain they were hoping for

Earlier this week, Kenyan activist Josphat Ngonyo spoke to our staff and members of the public in DC about the dangers of GE crops for African countries. If you weren’t able to attend, you can listen to Josphat’s interview on WBAI (Pacifica New York).

monsanto-tech-showcase-08-131The companies that sell GE crops like to present them as the magic bullet, the cure for famine and poverty. One of their major arguments was that crop yields would supposedly be higher. Sounds fantastic, until you look at the actual data. A recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, entitled “Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops” shows that this argument may not be valid after all. Considering the massive crop failures in South Africa came after the use of GE crops, it is clear that their use is not  justified by the science or by reality. Read the full article…

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April 20th, 2009

Happy Earth Day 2009!

Earth Day 2009 - Washington, DC - Photo 2It’s that time of year again! Wednesday April 22nd is Earth Day, with this year marking the event‚ 39th anniversary. In this spirit, Food & Water Watch is attending a series of events throughout the country for current and new activists, and we would love to see you there!

Earth Day 2009 - DC - Photo 1

Even if you can’t make it to an event, there are a variety of ways to get involved. You could take action on any number of issues, such as fish farming, strengthening our food safety laws, improving our water infrastructure, fighting bottled water, and more. You can also host a film screening in your area , just contact us to find out how!

Thanks for all of the great work, and have a happy Earth Day!

- Food & Water Watch

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