Blogs | Food & Water Watch - Part 20
Victory! Cleveland passes resolution against antibiotic misuse on factory farms. more wins »
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February 12th, 2014

Field Notes: Working to End Abuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms

By Katy Kiefer

A woman in Seattle, WA, holds a sign to express her concern about resistant bacteria bred on factory farms.

For the past several years, awareness about all they ways that factory farms make animals, workers, the environment and consumer sick has been on the rise thanks to movies like Food, Inc. and Food & Water Watch’s Factory Farm Map.

But what you might not know is that 80 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used by the agriculture industry to promote growth and to compensate for filthy, crowded living conditions at these industrial livestock facilities. Nontherapeutic use of antibiotics on factory farms is making antibiotics less effective in healing infections, which is creating a public heath crisis. According to the CDC, each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result of these infections.

The FDA has known about this problem since the 70s and has yet to take meaningful action (read how its voluntary guidelines released in December fall short here). Despite this, consumer demand for better chicken has never been higher. This week, Chick-fil-A announced that within five years, it will join the ranks of companies such as Chipotle, Niman Ranch and Applegate Farms that already sell meat raised without nontherapeutic antibiotics. However, the burden should not be on consumers. We deserve the right to buy and eat better chicken no matter where we shop or dine. We need laws that protect against antibiotic misuse on factory farms. We can no longer sit by and wait for the FDA or Congress to act on this urgent public health issue, which is why we’ve kicked off a campaign to encourage local governments to take a stand.

This spring, Food & Water Watch is partnering with the Green Corps training program for organizers to pass resolutions in seven cities in support of banning the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms. We’ve already passed the first of these resolutions in Providence, RI, with more to come. Read more about our local efforts below. We will keep you posted as more resolutions are passed. In the meantime, tell your members of Congress to support federal legislation to save antibiotics for life-saving medicine, not animal feed on factory farms.

Read the full article…

February 11th, 2014

Intimidation and Bullying: How Industry Steamrolls the Scientific Debate

By Tim Schwab

For anyone who’s ever wondered why the “science-based” rules and regulations coming out of Washington are so consistently industry friendly, Tyrone Hayes’ story recently in the New Yorker, but told first by 100Reporters and Environmental Health News last June, is enlightening.

A biology professor at the University of California, Hayes took research funding from Syngenta to study its herbicide atrazine. When his study found environmental and health problems with the widely used herbicide in the late 1990s, Sygenta balked and stalled his findings. Hayes ended the funding relationship, feeling that his peers may eventually think that he was “part of a plan to bury important data” and that his reputation might be injured. Little did Hayes know. Read the full article…

February 9th, 2014

Food & Water Europe: A New Year

We’re hitting the ground running in 2014 and need you to be part of this year’s successes in our work to protect Europe’s food and water.
Sign up today.

By Eve Mitchell

It’s February? Already? Let’s get this going!

After a very busy 2013, 2014 sure started with a roar for Food & Water Europe!

While we are full on for the new year, we want to say “Thank you!” for your part in our successes food, water and fracking successes in 2013, including:
Read the full article…

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February 7th, 2014

Factory Farmed Chicken: Not Fit to Eat

By Darcey Rakestraw

Low in cholesterol and saturated fat, chicken has been touted as a healthy alternative to red meat. You may think you’re making a good choice by choosing chicken when you go out to eat or shopping at the supermarket, but one thing’s for sure: the way we produce chicken today is something our grandparents would never recognize—and it’s even making us sick.

That’s why we’ve created this new video in partnership with Appeal To Reason Productions featuring Environmental Media Association board members Constance Zimmer, Raphael Sbarge and Samantha Ressler.

How often do you sit down at a restaurant and order the chicken? If you asked questions about how the chicken was raised and processed, you probably wouldn’t get very clear answers. Inspired by this hilarious Portlandia skit, these are the answers you’d get if your server knew the real story behind most of the chicken served in the U.S.

But unlike the diners in the video, you’d probably not be amused if your waiter told you that your chicken was raised on a factory farm controlled by one of four giant corporations. Or that it was dunked in bleach to remove visible signs of fecal matter. Or that the animals were raised in crowded conditions raised on antibiotics (which is contributing to a public health disaster—antibiotic resistance in humans.)

Now, we have a handful of days or weeks to put pressure on the USDA not to allow the privatization of poultry inspections. Given the unhealthy way that chicken is raised and processed, proper food inspections are vital. But could you inspect 175 birds a minute? We couldn’t either. That’s why the USDA’s plan to cut USDA inspectors and to put the job of inspections in the hands of the poultry companies is a bad idea. What’s worse, is it’s the first step towards deregulating our meat inspection system entirely—with beef inspections next on the list.

Share the video and take action today to pressure the USDA to stop the plan before it’s too late.

February 6th, 2014

Communities Ask Congress: Come See What Life is Like in the Gas Patch

By Katherine Cirullo

Residents whose water has been contaminated speak out against fracking on Capitol Hill. Left to Right: Craig Stevens, Ray Kemble, John Fenton. Not picutred: Steve Lipsky

According to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, making her agency “active and visible” in the communities it serves is a top priority. As of yesterday, she even went the full mile and declared February “Environmental Justice Month.” What’s ironic is, the EPA has yet to make communities affected by fracking-related water contamination a top priority. They’ve received no justice. Instead, they’ve been abandoned and left to advocate for themselves and many others.

“There’s a possibility that thousands of people we represent can get some help if we stand up,” said John Fenton, of Pavillion, Wyoming as he stood courageously in front of a room full of congressional aids, reporters and allies. “Knowing that, maybe it’s worth being the example.”

As we’ve blogged before, Fenton, along with Ray Kemble of Dimock, Pennsylvania, Steve Lipsky of Parker County, Texas and Craig Stevens of Pennsylvania years ago turned to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate the connection between their contaminated water and nearby oil and gas drilling. The EPA intervened on behalf the communities, but, to no avail, as it eventually dropped all three investigations. After months of nation-wide public pressure and despite a recent EPA Inspector General report that asserts the EPA was justified in its initial intervention in Texas, the agency refuses to re-open the cases. Moreover, the Obama administration refuses to meet with these people who have been affected by water contamination ‑ those who now devote their lives to making sure that the truth is heard and that thousands of others are protected.

Yesterday, John, Ray, Steve and Craig came to Washington, D.C. to continue their mission to expose the harmful effects of fracking. Only this time, they came to demand Congress’s help. At a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by Representative Matthew Cartwright (D-PA), Stop the Frack Attack and Americans Against Fracking, these activists, joined by Josh Fox, director of Gasland and Gasland 2, urged Congress to listen to their stories, share them, and pressure the Obama administration to re-open the abandoned water contamination investigations that leave them without drinkable water. “Support the people that you’re supposed to support,” declared Fenton. Read the full article…

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February 5th, 2014

The “Let Me Decide” Campaign is Growing Into a Movement in Florida!

By Lynna Kaucheck

Just 18 months ago we hit the ground in Florida and kicked off the “Let Me Decide” campaign to label genetically engineered (GE) food in Florida, and I am absolutely blown away by the amount of progress we’ve made in such a short time. And I couldn’t be happier to report that the Florida legislature is finally beginning to discuss the issue, our GE labeling bill is being scheduled for discussion at an upcoming Senate Agriculture Committee meeting!

This issue is an important one to me because food is such an intimate part of our lives. Preparing and sharing a meal with friends and family is one of the most basic and most treasured actions of my daily life. The thought of not having a choice over what I’m feeding my friends and family seems unjust. But if our food isn’t properly labeled, we can’t truly make informed decisions about what we’re feeding the people we love and that’s just wrong. We all deserve the right to know where are food comes from and how it is produced—I believe that is something worth fighting for.

Throughout the course of our campaign, we’ve developed a strong coalition of over 230 organizations and businesses across the state that agree that we should have the right to know if our food is genetically engineered. Some of these partners, including GMO Free Florida (http://gmofreeflorida.org/), have been instrumental in helping us achieve our goals and in building the movement for GE labeling in Florida. Read the full article…

January 31st, 2014

Toxic Waters in West Virginia

By Mary Grant man holding glass of water

The water crisis in West Virginia is a wake-up call for our elected officials. Loud and clear, it screams that we must act to protect our precious common water resources from the rampant pollution of the fossil fuel industry and the abuses of water privatization. 

The specifics of the spill keep changing as more information comes out almost every day, but here are the facts as we know them right now: On January 9, about 10,000 gallons of crude MCHM and PPH — chemicals used to treat coal — spilled into the Elk River about a mile and a half upstream of the regional water treatment owned and operated by West Virginia American Water. More than 300,000 West Virginians in nine counties were banned from using their tap water for anything but toilet flushing for between five and nine days. Hospitals treated hundreds of people for symptoms related to chemical exposure. Many residents continue to question the safety of their tap water and refuse to drink it.

Read the full article…

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January 30th, 2014

Time to Step Up and Actively Oppose Fast Track/TPP

At the end of 2013, we quickly realized that a few legislators had plans to introduce fast track authority for trade deals first thing in 2014, which they did on January 9. This meant we had to quickly adjust our New Year’s resolutions and make “Opposing Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)” our first order of business. So, while many of you have been at the gym or taking a new class, we’ve been busy planning some events for our TPP Day of Action tomorrow.

Food & Water Watch activists around the nation are participating in events that will highlight how Fast Track and the TPP could undermine consumer rights and natural resources while targeting local members of Congress and asking them to oppose Fast Track and the TPP.

These actions are in coordination with over 50 rallies across North America, organized by the Trade Justice Network and coalition partners. Check out the list of events where we’ll be tomorrow, and find more hereRead the full article…

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Greenwashing Pay-to-Pollute, and Harming Indigenous Communities to Boot

Say NO to REDD+ offsets in California’s carbon market

By Elizabeth Nussbaumer

In a recent blog post from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) they proudly announce their role in helping to develop offset credits from REDD+ programs in the Amazon — the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation — for use in California’s cap-and-trade market. REDD+ programs exist in Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and elsewhere, and in theory they supposedly protect tropical forests.

EDF specifies that incorporating offsets from REDD+ leads to rewards for indigenous peoples and even ecosystem protection under this supposedly great initiative. However, we see evidence of very different outcomes from REDD+ offset programs; so don’t start guzzling the cool-aid just yet.

The reality of this program is all but rewarding or great. To begin with, offsets of any kind are part of a pay-to-pollute loophole that allows companies to continue polluting at the source under the empty promise that emissions reductions will happen elsewhere; whether those reductions actually happen is highly questionable. Read the full article…

Two Years Later, the House Passes the 2012 Farm Bill

Patty Lovera

Food & Water Watch Assistant Director Patty Lovera

By Patty Lovera

I was starting to wonder if this day would ever come. Yesterday, the House passed their final Farm Bill. In case you missed it, the saga for this Farm Bill has been fairly epic – not because of what got accomplished, but for how dysfunctional the process became.  

So here’s how it all worked out: the nicest thing you can say about this final Farm Bill is it’s a mixed bag.

The final bill cuts the nutrition safety net for low-income families by almost $9 billion over 10 years (compared to the House version of the bill which would have cut $40 billion). Read the full article…

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