Quantcast
Blogs
Victory! Cleveland passes resolution against antibiotic misuse on factory farms. more wins »
X

Welcome!

You're reading Smorgasbord from Food & Water Watch.

If you'd like to send us a note about a blog entry or anything else, please use this contact form. To get involved, sign up to volunteer or follow the take action link above.

Blog Categories

Blog archives

Stay Informed

Sign up for email to learn how you can protect food and water in your community.

   Please leave this field empty

Blog Posts

April 2nd, 2014

Fight to Stop Privatization of our Fisheries Continues

the fight over fish quotaBy Elizabeth Schuster

In the face of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) request for increased spending of $2,000,000 to develop and implement new catch share – or Individual Fishing Quota – programs, a bipartisan group of 22 Members of Congress have made a stand for our nation’s small-scale fishermen.

Last week, the Members, led by Representative Steve Southerland, sent a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations requesting there be no funding allocated for new catch share programs in the FY2015 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriation bill.

Catch shares are a way of distributing portions of the total catch limits in a fishery to individual fishermen, in a way that is often grossly unfair. Catch shares cause significant unemployment and financial hardship among our nation’s traditional small fishermen and their communities.

Preventing NOAA from wasting money on new catch share programs is an important step in stopping these privatization schemes that often results in leaving our nation’s fish, one of our most precious natural resources, in the hands of a small number of larger operations.

Small-scale fishing businesses face many threats to their survival. In addition to the continuing push for catch shares, they also face the ongoing threat from a flood of imported fish products from abroad. Coupling NOAA’s pursuit of catch shares with the continuing push for new “free trade” agreements means the livelihood of these businesses and the communities that depend on them is under threat.

 

Posted in  |  No Comments  | 

If the Drug Companies Love FDA’s New Guidance, Should We?

drug take-back day

Photo by Tom Varco used with permission.

By Sarah Borron

Last week, FDA pronounced success in its voluntary Guidance to Industry #213 on the use of medically important antibiotics in feed for livestock. Every company but one that makes these drugs said they would participate, covering over 99 percent of the affected drugs. If the companies stick to their word, it means that in three years, medically important antibiotics should 1) no longer be used for growth promotion and 2) be used only under the oversight of a veterinarian. Both of these are long overdue first steps, but they still are not enough to stop the overuse of these critically important drugs for a couple of key reasons:

1) Overlap of Use: Giving healthy animals low doses of medically important antibiotics to make them grow faster is a really wasteful use of antibiotics. This practice promotes the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, putting profits ahead of public health. It’s high time this practice ended. Unfortunately, the same practice of giving healthy animals low doses of antibiotics can be done in the name of “disease prevention,” which is still allowed under the new FDA guidance. Of the drugs losing their approvals for growth promotion uses, 63 percent are still approved for disease prevention. So, producers aren’t necessarily going to lose the growth promoting benefit of many of the drugs, even if the purpose of using them is disease prevention. Only 11 percent of the drugs will fully discontinue nontherapeutic uses, any use for a purpose other than disease treatment.

2) Strength of Veterinary Oversight: But what about the veterinary oversight? Won’t that stop the use of antibiotics for routine disease prevention? That’s still unclear. FDA just accepted public comments on the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), which spells out the rules around veterinarians approving the use of antibiotics in feed. It’s possible that the rules will be written in such a way that veterinarian approval can carry on for months at time or for multiple herds or flocks of animals, possibly without the veterinarian ever visiting the farm. There is also an important issue that the FDA needs to address, the shortage of veterinarians in rural areas. While we want to ensure that lack of access to veterinarians for small farms is addressed, we do have to make sure that this doesn’t become an excuse for allowing injudicious uses of antibiotics to continue on large operations.

In three years, we’ll have a better sense of whether FDA’s initiative offers more shine than substance in changing practices. Regardless, to save antibiotics, we.need Congress to pass a complete ban on nontherapeutic uses of antibiotic use in livestock, and you can help us by asking for your members of Congress to support this important legislation here.

April 1st, 2014

Anti-Frackers Hot on Cuomo’s Reelection Trail

By Seth Gladstone

In New York, it’s an election year. Slowly but surely, Governor Andrew Cuomo is emerging from his tightly managed and typically sparse pubic appearance schedule to attend an expanding roster of ribbon-cuttings and party fundraisers. Which means the anti-fracking masses are once again hot on Cuomo’s trail.

As noted – with a photograph – in the New York Daily News, more than 150 New Yorkers of all stripes turned up recently outside a swanky Manhattan hotel to remind Cuomo of exactly what his next eight months will look like (unless he bans fracking, that is.) Days later, the crowds were out on Long Island, with the same simple message for the governor: we’re not leaving until you do the right thing for our families and our future.

As the movement against fracking in New York continues to grow, new activists, new advocates, and new constituencies are joining every day. In a state still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy, climate change has taken increasing prominence in anti-fracking circles.

In what sadly should come as no surprise to anyone with an eighth grade education, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently confirmed the stark, terrifying reality of human-impacted climate change. “Water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying… and the world’s food supply is at considerable risk.” Lovely.

While the immense scale and complexity of the crisis seems daunting, the antidote to our stubborn fossil fuel addiction is actually quite simple: it’s political leadership.  This leadership can and must be exhibited by elected officials here in America that claim to be responsible, forward-thinking policy makers, but have yet to support such claims with actions.  Officials like Andrew Cuomo.

In this election year, New Yorkers will be leading the charge for a future beyond fossil fuels, and without fracking. Governor Cuomo will be getting an earful. Stay tuned.

Posted in  |  1 Comment  | 
March 31st, 2014

The Fight Against Fracking is a Fight For Social Justice

California fracking rally

Left to right: Food & Water Watch’s Adam Scow, social justice leader Lupe Anguiano and The Center for Biological Diversity’s Hillary Aidun at the March 15, 2014, Don’t Frack California rally in Sacramento.

By Anna Ghosh

Today, March 31, we celebrate the birthday of Cesar Chavez, the co-founder of what we know today as the United Farm Workers; now in its 52nd year. His heroic leadership of a 5-year grape strike in Delano, California, in the 60s is chronicled in the newly released film Cesar Chavez. Through aggressive but nonviolent organizing, Chavez organized thousands of poor Latino workers throughout Central California to win higher wages, better working conditions and collective bargaining rights for generations of farmworkers.

I had the honor last week of having a conversation with an amazing woman who worked alongside Chavez in the 60s and has been fighting for social justice her entire life. Lupe Anguiano is a civil rights activist known for her work on women’s rights, the rights of the poor, and the protection of the environment. In 2006, she founded the environmental nonprofit Stewards of the Earth to provide educational, social and economic services to low-income and Indigenous people in the United States, Mexico and Latin America. In 2007 she was designated a Women’s History Month Honoree by the National Women’s History Project and has an archive named after her at UCLA. Now, Anguiano’s fight for social justice has led her to fight fracking and dumping of toxic waste associated with fracking and drilling where she lives in Oxnard, California.

Here’s an excerpt from our talk:

How did you get involved working with Chavez? When the strike began I was a Catholic nun working with migrants and Latino people in Los Angeles. The grape growers didn’t adequately take care of their workers – they had no restrooms or clean water to drink – and it I felt that it was part of my mission as a nun to stand up for these workers rights. We would picket in Los Angeles where they would unload the grapes from Delano.

What led to you leaving the clergy to become a community organizer? The more I learned about the injustices being waged against Latinos, the more I got involved. I fought redlining (housing and financial discrimination), as did many religious people, but Cardinal McIntyre (who Harvard historian Lisa McGirr calls “the most extreme right-wing member of the American Catholic hierarchy), objected to Los Angeles clergy speaking out. He said we were getting too political, but we knew this was about social justice. This is what Christ did (stand up for the poor). Pope John XXIII even encouraged is, which gave me wings. But I continued to be reprimanded by the Cardinal, which led me to leave the order. I felt that I could do more as a layperson. This is when I was invited by Cesar to come to Delano. But then I was called to Washington by President Johnson to work on bilingual education.

What did you think of Washington? I was very disappointed, so I went back to Delano. Volunteers were paid $5 a week plus housing and food, but it was the most rewarding job of my life. I would get up at 3a.m. so I could ride in the truck with Cesar. He used great a great method of organizing to get the attention of workers and policy makers alike. He taught us the importance of nonviolence. I learned so much.

What is your personal connection to the land and agriculture? I am a Latina and Latinos build the agricultural industry in California. When I was a child, every summer we would pick fruit on the farm that my Uncle tended. Latino workers always protected and respected the soil, the land and the environment. Agriculture is what enriches our state. It’s what makes California so special and important. Why would we want to tarnish or risk the agricultural wealth of our state?

Why do you think Governor Brown can’t see how fracking and extreme extraction threatens California’s agricultural heritage? I’m completely disappointed by Brown. I have lived in California since I was in the third grade (Lupe is now 85), and every governor and president since I have lived here has protected our agriculture and environment. For example, Nixon initiated the Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts and when the big oil spill in Santa Barbara happened, Governor Reagan initiated CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act). What is Governor Brown doing destroying California’s agricultural economy? Petroleum by its very nature destroys living organisms. Has he gone out of touch? I hear his wife is invested in petroleum and she’s probably influencing him. But how can a governor not understand that agriculture is so integral to our economy? Destruction of our agriculture is criminal. More than 50 percent of the nation’s fresh food comes from California and to destroy that would be it outrageously sinful.

Then there’s his rhetoric on climate change, but he continues to stand behind dirty fossil fuels. The whole thing is crazy. Can he not see the huge opportunities in renewable energy? We are leaving behind industrial era and moving into renewable technology. California is in the lead and our universities are set. The whole nation and world are moving towards more renewable sources. But Governor Brown’s lack of action to stop fracking and drilling could destroy California’s position as a leader in renewable energy.

What are you working on now? I live in Oxnard, which is the dumping ground of Ventura County. A few years ago, we fought tooth and nail to keep a liquefied natural gas terminal our or Oxnard. We won, but it’s a continuous battle. Now they’re dumping fracking waste in our strawberry fields and trying to build wells near an elementary school. They’re trying to turn Oxnard into a Bakersfield. Why aren’t they going to Thousand Oaks or Simi Valley? Because they would never allow it. We cannot allow our communities to become toxic dumping grounds. We’re not Texas, we’re not South Dakota.

What organizations do you think are doing the best work in this area? Groups that engage Latinos, like LULAC and the Latino Congreso, and groups that focus on agriculture, like Food & Water Watch, are critical. We must align ourselves. Food and water are the foundation for life. The Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice have good attorneys, great research and information.

How can we make the most impact?  
We must cultivate more responsible leaders. We need more independent, “decline to state” voters. We need more young people to get politically active. Afterall, this is the world that they are inheriting.

Whether It’s “Energy Independence” or “Geopolitics” You Still Get Fracked

By Mitch Jones

 

Fracking rig and wastewater pit

Have you heard about the plan to create a virtual worldwide free trade zone for U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG)?

Domestic politics blended with with geopolitical gamesmanship recently when Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced bills in their respective houses of Congress that would expedite approval of LNG exports to almost every nation in the world. Not coincidentally, the two are planning to face-off against one another in the fall elections.

Under the guise of providing support to Ukraine, both bills would remove current regulations controlling LNG exports from every member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) – that’s over 75 percent of all nations. This includes growing economies such as China, India and Brazil – and ironically, Russia. Earlier this month, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter argued that LNG shouldn’t be used as a geopolitical bargaining chip. This plan takes it to a whole new level. Read the full article…

Posted in  |  2 Comments  | 
March 28th, 2014

Species Extinction on the Installment Plan

By Mitch Jones

Yesterday, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) announced its decision to list the lesser prairie chicken as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act. The decision was in recognition of the increasing threat to the species from the ongoing drought in the Southwestern United States—and the main threat of habit loss and fragmentation—much from oil and gas development. In 2013, the lesser prairie chicken population fell more than 50 percent from 2012, leaving fewer than 18,000 of the birds living in its historic range.

While it is certainly good news—long overdue good news—that the FWS has listed the lesser prairie chicken, there’s a big caveat. Included in the listing is a loophole allowing oil and gas industry to “avoid further regulation” of their activities, so long as they enroll in the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (WAFWA’s) range-wide conservation plan. In other words, the oil and gas industry has an out from regulation if they make a financial contribution to “offset” the damage down to the lesser prairie chicken’s habitat.

Such plans are growing increasingly popular and are part of the broader push to financialize nature. Known as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), the idea seems simple enough. Supporters argue that paying a landowner to preserve a particular natural feature—in this instance rangeland, but it could be forest or wet land—offsets damage done by industry in other areas. Through PES, a gas company wanting to drill can continue to do so and will be allowed to kill—or “take”—lesser prairie chickens so long as it pays into the plan. It’s species extinction on the installment plan.

Such plans really just undercut strong protections for endangered and threatened species. But even with this giant loophole, it could have been worse. A consortium of industry and nonprofit groups, lead by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), has been pushing a “habitat credit exchange.” While somewhat similar to the plan adopted by the FWS, the habitat exchanges would go much further in pushing the financialization of nature. Instead of merely establishing a means for landowners to be paid to offset industrial destruction and disruption of lesser prairie chicken habitat, the exchange would allow for trading of conservation credits, and for the eventual price fluctuation that comes with commodity exchanges, as well as the temptation to hedge and speculate on those changes in price.

Instead of allowing oil and gas companies to pay-to-endanger threatened species, the Fish & Wildlife Service should enforce strict rules to preserve habitat and protect those species.

 

 

 

March 27th, 2014

Cities Don’t Need Expensive Private Financing Gimmicks

By Mitch Jones 

This week, the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s special Public-Private Partnership Panel held a roundtable discussion on the use of public-private partnerships (P3s) in water and wastewater systems. I was pleased to represent Food & Water Watch as the only witness critical of these needless corporate get-rich schemes. 

Read the full article…

March 25th, 2014

Q & A: Wenonah Hauter on GMOs and Activism

By Marissa Sherman, for GMO Inside

Wenonah Hauter has worked extensively on food, water, energy and environmental issues at the national, state and local level. Her book Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America looks into the corporate consolidation and control over our food system and how that affects farmers and consumers. She is a skilled and accomplished organizer. She’s lobbied and developed grassroots field strategy and action plans concerning many food and environmental issues. She has an M.S. in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland.

Q: In your opinion, what is the root of the GMO problem? Why should people care?

A: People should care because very little unbiased, independent scientific research has been done into the health and environmental implications of GMOs, and the industry works hard to keep it that way through inappropriately influencing our academic institutions and bullying scientists who don’t comply with their worldview. What we do know about GMO crops is troubling: the vast majority are designed with the sole purpose of withstanding large quantities of toxic pesticides and herbicides that pollute our environment and are linked to serious health problems. This overuse of agrichemicals is also giving rise to uncontrollable superweeds that cost farmers thousands to deal with. But the root of the problem is that GMOs are a tool that giant agribusinesses like Monsanto have used to dominate multiple sectors of agriculture and make the marketplace less competitive and more expensive for farmers.

Q: Do you see GMO labeling happening anytime soon? How do you think it might happen? State-by-state or at the national level?

A: A huge grassroots movement is gaining ground around the country. I’m excited about the grassroots state legislative campaigns going on now that are advancing GMO labeling and have the industry on the defensive. While strong national labeling legislation is the end game, we believe that Oregon’s ballot fight for labeling can be won this November and are on the steering committee of that effort. The legislative fights we’re involved with in New York, Illinois, California and Florida also look promising and coalitions in several other states are making great progress as well. The industry is on the wrong side of history on this issue – eventually this labeling will be required. Read the full article…

Dear President Obama: Big Oil and Safe Water Just Don’t Mix

By Katherine Cirullo

Pubic concern about the effects of fracking is escalating, and the breadth of actions people across the country are taking to stop this dirty method of energy extraction sure show it. Last fall, four cities in Colorado, a state peppered with gas fields, voted to pass bans or moratoria; and earlier this month, thousands of concerned community members flocked to the largest anti-fracking rally in California’s history.

Among those leading the charge against fracking are four individuals personally affected by the process,  (residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania; Parker County, Texas; and Pavillion, Wyoming) who, over the past year, have gone to great lengths to share their stories and expose the truth about the connection between fracking and water contamination. After the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) abandoned water contamination investigations in their respective communities despite evidence that the contamination was likely linked to fracking, these four courageously devoted their lives to making sure that hundreds of others don’t find themselves in the same tragic situation.

Craig Stevens, Ray Kemble, Steve Lipsky and John Fenton have garnered a massive support network to boot. Last fall, Americans Against Fracking and Stop the Frack Attack gathered 250,000 petitions from concerned citizens across the country demanding that the EPA re-open the investigations it abandoned in the three communities. In January, over 200 groups sent a letter to President Obama with the same message. Despite immense pressure, his administration has turned a blind eye and worse yet, failed to meet with affected families.

Recently, these four folks spoke out at a briefing on Capitol Hill, only this time they called on Congress for help. As John Fenton so aptly framed it:  “Congress, support the people you’re supposed to support.”

Read the full article…

Posted in ,  |  4 Comments  | 
March 24th, 2014

Still Reckless After All These Years

By Kate Fried 

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, one of the largest human-caused catastrophes in our history. Since then, the oil and gas industry has continued its quest to squeeze as many fossil fuels from the ground as possible, with little regard for public safety and the environment.  Read the full article…

Posted in ,  |  1 Comment  | 
Page 2 of 143123456...102030...Last »