Blogs | Food & Water Watch - Part 21
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January 10th, 2014

Fast Track, the TPP, and Our Fight

Which Side Are You On?

By Mitch Jones

Fast Track must be defeated!

I’m not engaging in hyperbole when I say that, of all the political fights I’ve engaged in over the years, this is the most important one. By a long shot.

The late Margaret Thatcher was famous for saying, “There is no alternative.” What she meant was there is no alternative to the anti-environment, anti-public health, anti-safe food, anti-clean water de-regulatory agenda. No alternative to the privatization of basic services. No alternative to replacing a high wage manufacturing economy with a low wage service economy. No alternative to putting finance in the drivers’ seat of our economy and our governments. No alternative to the neo-liberal agenda of hyper-individualism and the denial of the existence of society.

But, of course, she was wrong. There is an alternative. I know there is because everyday moms and dads, working folks who don’t have the privilege of being paid to fight this fight like I do, give up their weeknights and their weekends to make that alternative real. Against all odds they pass referenda to stop fracking in Colorado of all places. They beat back water utility privatization in Ft. Worth! They pass bills to label GMOs. They pass local living wage laws. And so much more. We know the alternative is possible.

But the people who thrive in the world created by “free trade” know it, too. And that’s why they are trying desperately to enact their agenda in the form of global trade agreements that contain provisions that will allow corporations to challenge federal, state, and local laws and regulations enacted democratically – but against their narrow financial interests. The biggest of these deals being negotiated right now is the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP. And, just today, legislation was introduced that would let the Obama administration push that deal through Congress on a “fast track” with no chance for amendments, no opportunity for real debate. And, what’s almost worse, the deal is being negotiated in secret. Neither you nor I can see the text being negotiated in our names.

If you want to know what this “free trade” agenda has done to our economy just look around. Wages have been stagnant for 40 years. Manufacturing jobs have fled abroad. More and more wealth has accumulated in fewer and fewer hands. Our economy is broken and it is broken because of this agenda.

In short, if we lose this fight it makes all our work harder.

This is a “which side are you on?” moment.

And this isn’t a partisan issue. I’m proud to say that some of our best allies in this fight are conservative – even tea party Republicans.

I want to take back the idea that “there is no alternative” and put it to good use. Because, there is no alternative to losing this fight. There just isn’t.

So, if you haven’t done it already please email, call, and tweet at your Member of Congress and tell them to vote no on fast track.

Disney Rejects the Poison Apple of Fracking

By Katherine Cirullo and Kate Fried 

Recently it looked like Disney was poised to reimagine one of its beloved films in a very modern and controversial manner. Imagine a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves where, rather than trotting off to work in the coal mines, the characters in question instead sing their famous song about going to work on a fracking rig. Sounds pretty dopey, right? 

Until yesterday, Radio Disney was partnering with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association to teach kids about the science behind oil and gas production through the “Rocking in Ohio” program. While billed as “scientific education,” the prospect of this alliance had many in the anti-fracking movement feeling rather grumpy, worrying that the program was actually an attempt by industry to influence the hearts and minds of our most impressionable population, who, when it comes down to it, probably just want to meet Mickey Mouse. 

This wasn’t the first time the oil and gas industry had used cartoons to promote its agenda to children. Back in 2011, Talisman Energy released Talisman Terry, the Friendly Frackosaurus, a PR stunt intended to teach kids about the so-called benefits of oil and gas extraction.  

But a world run on dirty, dangerous and unsustainable fossil fuels seems quite the opposite of an enchanted fairytale. When word of Radio Disney’s partnership with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association got out, the public objected, and many were not bashful about voicing their opposition to this unlikely alliance. In fact, over 81,000 people signed a petition initiated by CREDO Mobilize asking Disney to end its involvement with the program. Ohio’s Center for Health, Environment & Justice also weighed in

Their efforts paid off. After a barrage of criticism, yesterday Radio Disney announced that it was pulling out of remaining installments of the tour. In statement sent to Al Jazeera, the company said: 

“The sole intent of the collaboration between Radio Disney and the nonprofit Rocking in Ohio educational initiative was to foster kids’ interest in science and technology. Having been inadvertently drawn into a debate that has no connection with this goal, Radio Disney has decided to withdraw from the few remaining installments of the program.”

It looks like we won’t be seeing fracking rigs popping up within the Magic Kingdom any time soon, a development that should make any fracktivist happy.

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January 7th, 2014

Preparing to Oppose the TPP in 2014

By Rich Bindell

In case you missed it, The Nation gave a nice little nod to Food & Water Watch in its “2013 Progressive Honor Roll.”

Here’s the excerpt…

MOST VALUABLE EDUCATION OF CONGRESS: PDA’s “Letter Drops”

Working with Food & Water Watch (on fracking), Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch (on the Trans-Pacific Partnership) and US Labor Against the War (on intervention and Pentagon spending), Progressive Democrats of America has organized monthly “Educate Congress” interventions. Activists have dropped by as many as 250 congressional district offices in a single day to deliver letters and talk with representatives and staffers.

“Instead of lobbyists, members of Congress are hearing from constituents who want to talk about economic and social justice, environmental justice and peace,” says PDA director Tim Carpenter.

Now, before you go back to catching up from your winter break, let’s take a moment to see where we are with the timeline for the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. Read the full article…

January 6th, 2014

Syngenta Correctly Predicts Superweeds Infestation: Jolly Well Done!

weeds and tractor steering wheel

By Eve Mitchell

In 2009 Swiss biotech giant Syngenta made a bold prediction that by 2013 a quarter of U.S. cropland would be infested with glyphosate-resistant superweeds. I heartily congratulate Syngenta for its foresight, if not the response to it. By January 2013, 61.2 million acres of U.S. farmland suffered from an increasingly stubborn case of superweeds. So Syngenta was being uncharacteristically modest – around one third of the 185 million acres of U.S. land planted with corn, cotton and soy has weeds that can’t be killed by normal means, adding significantly to the cost and effort of farming.

As 2013 drew to a close, a new Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) policy brief reported that, in fact, “Almost 50 percent of surveyed farms are infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds, and the rate of these weeds’ spread has been increasing.” UCS added:

“Herbicide-resistant weeds are also symptomatic of a bigger problem: an out-dated system of farming that relies on planting huge acreages of the same crop year after year. This system, called monoculture, has provided especially good habitat for weeds and pests and accelerated the development of resistance. In response, Monsanto and its competitors are now proposing to throw more herbicides at resistant weeds, an approach that ignores the underlying biology of agricultural systems and will inevitably lead to more resistance and a further spiraling up of herbicide use.”

The rapid spike in the use of Monsanto’s best-selling weed killer glyphosate in the U.S. is closely linked to the uptake of genetically modified (GM) crops designed to be used with the brand name version of the chemical (Roundup). As widely predicted by both industry and GM skeptics, problematic weeds like Palmer amaranth quickly developed resistance to Roundup and are spreading fast as farmers struggle to kill them with combinations of chemicals in heavier concentrations, or simply resorting to hand weeding hundreds of acres of fields. The problem is so serious in the Southern U.S. that UCS reports, “92 percent of cotton and soybean fields are infested as a result of Roundup Ready crops.” Superweeds are also causing escalating problems in other countries with heavy GM crop use, including in the soy fields of Argentina and Brazil upon which the EU is so reliant to fuel its factory farms. Read the full article…

January 3rd, 2014

2014 Starts With a Biotech-sponsored Bang

By Genna Reed

In a completely unpropitious start to the new year, the USDA released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Dow AgroScience’s 2,4-D tolerant Enlist corn and soybeans today after taking just six months to analyze over 400,000 comments and write a 223 page assessment.

Many of you sent in comments to the USDA regarding its Environmental Assessments released in 2011, which prompted the USDA to open a comment period for a proposed EIS (the more thorough of two options for environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act). Now farmers, farmworkers, consumers and environmental advocates will have 45 days to comment on the USDA’s EIS for Dow’s 2,4-D tolerant corn and soybean varieties. This is the public’s last opportunity to tell USDA to deny the approval of these genetically engineered crops.

The biotech industry wants to claim these new GE crops will help control herbicide resistant weeds, but instead these new herbicide tolerant crops will just perpetuate the problem and tack on harsher environmental consequences for good measure. In Food & Water Watch’s “Superweeds” report released last summer, we predicted that once 2,4-D corn is approved and adopted at the same rate as Roundup Ready corn, 2,4-D application on corn could increase by 2 million pounds in just two years. USDA’s own models in its EIS show that with the approval of Dow’s new corn and soybeans, 2,4-D use would increase two to six-fold.

This could have devastating impacts on grapes, tomatoes and all other specialty crops because 2,4-D is very prone to drifting away from the field where it is applied and killing other plants that aren’t engineered to survive it—not to mention the potential health effects associated with 2,4-D exposure, including non-Hodgkins lymphoma. (If 2,4-D sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it was one of the ingredients in the infamous Agent Orange defoliant used during the Vietnam War.)

2,4-D-tolerant corn and soybeans are not only dangerous, but completely unnecessary.

The Union of Concerned Scientists just released a policy brief on superweeds and found that, “herbicide use could be reduced by more than 90 percent—while maintaining or increasing yields and net farmer profits—through practices based on the principles of ecological science that reduce weed numbers and growth.”

We hope you will join Food & Water Watch in calling on the USDA and EPA to deny approval for these toxic crops. Look for an opportunity to send in your comment in the coming weeks!

New York’s Fracking Ban Movement Joins Cuomo for the Holidays

By Alex Beauchamp

You could forgive Governor Cuomo if he’s feeling a little sick of the movement for a ban on fracking in New York. After all, he’s been seeing quite a lot of us this holiday season.

Just before Thanksgiving, the governor headed to Buffalo to raise some money for his upcoming campaign, and there we were. One hundred New Yorkers gathered just outside the fundraiser urging him to ban fracking now.

The next week, the governor headed to New York City’s Theater District for a high-dollar birthday fundraiser, headlined by the singer Billy Joel. Over 700 New Yorkers were there to wish Governor Cuomo a happy birthday – and demand a ban on fracking. 

Perhaps tiring of seeing concerned New Yorkers following his every move, the governor headed to Washington, D.C. the following week. He went to – you guessed it – another fundraiser, this time at the offices of the Podesta Group, a high-priced lobbying firm. But in Washington, even in the midst of a snowstorm that shut down much of the District of Columbia, we were there once again, right outside the fundraiser, demanding a ban on fracking.

None of this should come as a surprise of course. Thousands of New Yorkers demanding a ban on fracking have followed Cuomo for over a year. And, headed into a reelection campaign in 2014, you can count on the movement against fracking to follow the governor all over the state – and out of it as well.

The truth is, we won’t stop until Governor Cuomo protects us all by banning fracking in New York. Our next stop: the movement to ban fracking will be ringing in the New Year in style with a huge rally to ban fracking outside Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address on Wednesday, January 8th. Join us there!

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January 2nd, 2014

Starting the Year Off Right

By Briana Kerensky

With the holiday season finally rolling to a close, it’s time to see if we can make good on our New Year’s resolutions. Getting healthy; spending more time with our families; being more productive at the office; these are all things we promise ourselves when the ball drops.

Here at Food & Water Watch, we’ve made our own resolutions. But as always, we need a little help from you to make sure we can achieve them. Here are some of the urgent priorities we’ll be focusing on early this year that will be crucial to win if we want to protect our essential resources—and our democracy. Read the full article…

December 27th, 2013

Why I Give to Food & Water Watch

Today’s blog post is from Susan Selbin, a longtime supporter and donor.

Food & Water Watch New Mexico Organizer Eleanor Bravo and supporter Susan Selbin.

I’ve been a supporter of Food & Water Watch for the past several years. I’m officially retired, but I travel a lot, taking on work outside of the country. When I’m home, I’m personally involved, and when I’m gone, I know that my donation to Food & Water Watch helps to keep the work I care about moving ahead.

In 2011, I was horrified by revelations on fracking exposed in the film Gasland, so I decided I had to get more involved in the movement to protect our water. When I found out that Food & Water Watch staff members were coming to my area, I jumped right in and helped them put together a Gasland screening in Santa Fe. It was a huge success — we filled the room to capacity, and I was inspired to do more. Subsequently, Food & Water Watch hired an experienced organizer, Eleanor Bravo, and opened an office in Albuquerque to ramp up their work in our state.

When I met Eleanor, I knew she meant business. So when she asked me to join her at a hearing on fracking at the State House last year, I couldn’t think of a more important way to spend my time. Long story short, the wait for the hearing lasted six and half hours (six and a half hours!). On top of that, they closed the snack bar, so Eleanor and I had to go digging through our purses for enough spare change to afford some sustenance from the vending machine. It was quite a day, and I learned how hard the state legislative process can be.

Working with Eleanor on days like that, I’ve learned a lot about Food & Water Watch and their staff who go above and beyond to fight for our basic rights. I support Eleanor and Food & Water Watch with my money and time because I’ve seen their fierce commitment to critical issues I care about, like protecting our precious water in New Mexico, and the impact they have in my community. Read the full article…

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December 26th, 2013

Top 13 Reasons to Raise Your Glass to 2013

By Katherine Cirullo

As the year comes to an end, Food & Water Watch has a lot of reasons to celebrate. And the truth is, we owe it all to you! Without the dedication and support of our members, activists and allies, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the 40-plus victories we achieved in 2013. Whether you volunteered your Saturday morning with us, signed a petition, wrote a letter to your local elected official, gave a donation, attended a rally, asked questions at a hearing or spread the word on Facebook – you contributed to reaching goals that we could never have accomplished without you. Your enthusiasm about our work – ensuring safe food, clean water and access to common resources now and for generations to come –never ceases to inspire us. We couldn’t be more grateful.


Food & Water Watch Greetings

Download video: MP4 format | Ogg format | WebM format

In 2013, together with our allies we: Read the full article…

December 23rd, 2013

A Year of Victories

 

Earlier this month, the entire Food & Water Watch staff gathered to map out our work for 2014. We planned to briefly celebrate our victories from 2013, too… but from local fracking bans to protecting our food from arsenic, it took us over an hour just to list them all! 

These victories are all thanks to you, and we made this infographic to show you all you’ve done in 2013.

 Read the full article…

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