- Part 30
Victory! Cleveland passes resolution against antibiotic misuse on factory farms. more wins »
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July 15th, 2013

If You Thought What ALEC and the Koch Brothers Are Doing Was Bad…

By Mitch Jones

We’ve all seen the results in states across the country of the influence that ALEC and the Koch Brothers have amassed. And if you think the results of their agenda to hand more and more power to corporations at your expense are bad, you should really hate the new “trade” deals being negotiated to hand even more power to corporations at our expense.

The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) is being secretly negotiated by 12 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Brunei. The Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) includes the 27 nations of the European Union. Both of these proposed trade agreements threaten U.S. food safety rules, infringe upon public and private land with an increased push for fracking, undermine efforts to develop local food systems and increase the privatization of water systems.

While its supporters talk about them as “trade” deals, in reality the TPP and TAFTA would be a permanent power grab by corporations and their financers that would make it impossible for future generations to choose what laws and rules they want to live under. They would permanently enshrine the very economic system that has lead to greater imbalances in income and wealth and increasing economic crises. These deals would also allow foreign corporations to sue the federal, state and local governments over laws and policies that violate the “trade” deal, but protect us from unsafe food, dirty water and dangerous fracking. It’s outrageous!

How do we know that these deals will give more power to corporations and leave our children, our air and water, and our food safety at greater risk? Because while the American people aren’t being told what’s in the deal, and while members of Congress are being shut out of the negotiations, representatives from more than 600 corporations and corporate interests are able not only to see the text of the agreement, but also are able to help influence what goes into it.

We need to stop these trade deals before they give even more power to corporations!

Read our new fact sheet: Don’t Fast Track Fracking and Unsafe Food

And tell your senator and representatives to oppose these corporate give-aways.

July 12th, 2013

Not-so-super Supermarket Merger

Food & Water Watch report advises local governments to seek better solutions.By Tyler Shannon

The year of the Foodopoly mega-merger churned forward this week when the second-biggest grocery retailer, Kroger, announced it was buying the Harris-Teeter supermarket chain. The $2.5 billion merger is one of the biggest supermarket super-mergers in ten years and will change the landscape for consumers – and not in a good way. Grocery consolidation limits consumer choices – of stores and of food – and often drives up food prices.

Kroger is already a gigantic grocery retailer, second only to Walmart. Kroger grew during the 1990s by snapping up regional grocery store chains and now it has more than 2,400 stores in 160 metropolitan areas. The chains it bought still fly their old corporate flags, so there are Kroger stores as well as Fred Meyer, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Smith’s, Fry’s, King Soopers and 10 other names.  

The purchase of Harris-Teeter would grab an established upscale grocery chain with over 200 stores in the southeastern and Mid-Atlantic region. Loyal shoppers might not notice, because Kroger will maintain the Harris-Teeter name, but some hometown Harris-Teeter consumers are worried that the store quality will deteriorate.

Consolidation in the grocery industry has rapidly accelerated in the past few decades driven by mergers and the growth of Walmart. In the 1990s, the top four chains sold about one out of every five bags of groceries, but today the big four retailers control half the market selling every other bag of groceries. Kroger is the biggest supermarket retailer in 27 cities and ranks second in another 56 cities.

Read the full article…

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Victory: FDA Finally Tackles Arsenic in Apple Juice

By Darcey Rakestraw and Anna Ghosh

Image provided by Patrick Geltinger.

Some of the problems with our food system might seem intractable, but today’s news shows that when we put pressure on decision makers, we get results.

According to media reports, the FDA is proposing stricter standards for allowable arsenic levels in our apple juice. Tests commissioned by the Empire State Consumer Project in 2011 showed one juice sample had arsenic levels more than five times higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency would allow in drinking water. We publicized these results to the media and the issue resonated with consumers and health professionals—Dr. Oz even tackled the issue on his show, bringing even more pressure onto the FDA to do something to protect our littlest consumers (since apple juice is a favorite of kids).

We’ve been lobbying for two years for these stricter standards for arsenic levels in apple juice. Now, we need to make sure they are finalized and enforced.

Want to be part of our next victory? Sign up for our email list to take action to protect your food and water.

July 11th, 2013

Farm Bill Update: “An extraordinary political spectacle”

Patty Lovera

Food & Water Watch Assistant Director Patty Lovera

By Patty Lovera

That was how Politico’s David Rogers described today’s Farm Bill action in the House. It’s a pretty accurate description, and way more polite than what many farm bill-watchers (including me) had to say about what went on today when they rushed a farm bill to the floor.

To recap: On June 20th, the House of Representatives voted on the Farm Bill and it failed, 195-234. Political junkies, as well as those who work on food policy, still haven’t gotten over it, since farm bills rarely (if ever) get voted down.  

Republican House leadership brought up an even more contentious idea in today’s attempt to revisit the farm bill. The strategy of the Republican leadership to break the impasse was to split the farm bill into two parts – and to leave the nutrition programs like SNAP (also known as food stamps) out of the bill. Read the full article…

School snacks get healthier

Arsenic in Apple Juice?By Anna Meyer

Public schools were intended to be learning institutions where everyone could get a free education. But junk food companies see them as gold mines – perfect locations to get children hooked on high fat and high sugar processed foods. While individual school districts have made progress in removing junk food from schools, soda, chips and candy are still far too commonly sold in schools, particularly to teens.

USDA has not historically regulated foods sold in schools beyond school meals, such as in vending machines. And since children spend a majority of their time outside the home at school, multiple generations of kids have grown up with easy access to unhealthy foods as part of their everyday educational experience. But, thankfully, some new rules start to make a dent in this problem. Read the full article…

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Playing catch-up with superbugs

Antiboitics Infographic

Click here to see our infographic about how antibiotic use on farms makes us sick.

By Sarah Borron

Did you know that on average, factory farms use more antibiotics than hospitals? Over 80 percent of antibiotics used in the U.S. are administered to livestock, typically in low doses to animals that aren’t even sick; a practice known as subtherapeutic use. When last we checked in about antibiotic use and livestock, FDA was touting its voluntary efforts to encourage the livestock industry to stop this practice, which is hastening the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or superbugs. But voluntary efforts lack the force of regulation and are not enough to protect the effectiveness of antibiotics in human medicine.

We are still waiting for the FDA to complete a rule change to require a veterinary prescription for pharmaceuticals in livestock feed and to take action on last fall’s announcement of plans for better data collection about how antibiotics are being used. But superbugs aren’t waiting – antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise. Thankfully, members of Congress in both the House and Senate have introduced two bills that address this critical public health issue. Read the full article…

Why I Was Arrested for Peacefully Protesting a Radical Legislative Agenda

By Renée Maas

North Carolina’s citizens and their civil liberties have been under steady attack lately by the corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as well as several members of our out-of-control legislature. But with Moral Mondays, citizens are showing that there is a growing movement in the state to fight back, which should inspire communities everywhere.

These citizens came out in droves last Monday—and I was even arrested as part of a peaceful action—to fight a corporate agenda that includes radical policies that, among other things, would force municipalities to hand over their water services to unelected boards without compensation and rush to open our state to fracking. Thankfully, the NAACP and other allies have created a way for those of us who feel misrepresented to express our displeasure with ALEC and the state legislature: Moral Mondays.

Yesterday marked the 10th and biggest Moral Monday, a statewide gathering of citizens protesting our legislature’s awful policy proposals, with over 3,000 people in attendance.

Of course, while expressing freedom of speech is critical to this movement, it doesn’t always come without its challenges. Sixty-four participants got arrested for civil disobedience and charged with trespassing inside the General Assembly building, failing to disperse when asked to leave, and—my personal favorite—singing loud songs while holding unauthorized protest signs.

This week’s arrests bring the total to 700 over the last ten weeks. Arrestees included members of the clergy, the CEO of North Carolina’s Planned Parenthood, professors, retirees, students, food servers, teachers, advocates and even elderly men and women in walkers and wheel chairs.

People are really tired of having our democracy weakened and made ineffective. North Carolina, like many states, now has a state legislature that is not representative of most residents in the state. In recent years, legislative districts have been gerrymandered by a fringe element that is funded by polluters like the Koch brothers.

Some legislators and critics have deemed the protest “Moron Mondays” or even “Money Mondays,” but after so much media attention from across the country, we know that critics are just part of the strategy that has been commonly attributed to Mohandes Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.”

Denying hospice care to sick people is just wrong. Eliminating 17,500 pre-school slots for four-year-olds is just wrong. Eliminating tax credits for 64,000 military families is just wrong. The people of North Carolina deserve better. Thankfully, Moral Mondays allow us to come together and fight for what we deserve. 

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July 2nd, 2013

There is nothing “innovative” about privatizing our water

By Elizabeth Schuster 

Yesterday, I participated in a meeting hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency on financing water infrastructure.  

Although I applaud the administration’s efforts to convene a discussion about the enormous need to invest in our nation’s aging infrastructure, I was discouraged that much of the meeting focused on promoting public-private partnerships and attracting more private financing for public water systems.   

Read the full article…

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Attack of the Superweeds

weeds and tractor steering wheel

herbicide-resistant weeds take over tractor

By Anna Meyer

We were warned. Over fifty years ago Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring expressed major concerns about the negative impacts of widespread overuse of herbicides. These concerns were reiterated in the early 1990s during the initial approval process of GE crops when the FDA Food Advisory Committee was warned that GE herbicide-resistant crops were very likely to turn the most common farmland weeds into superweeds resistant to the herbicides meant to kill them.

In spite of these warnings, uncontrollable herbicide-resistant superweeds are a reality today. In recent years, there have been devastating reports of farmers losing crops to out-of-control weeds and the same old chemical solutions offered up by biotech industry giants such as Monsanto.

GE crops tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate (most commonly known as Monsanto’s Roundup), were sold on the premise that they would require less herbicide and increase yields, which would in turn be better for the environment. There is only one problem with this claim: it’s not true.

Read the full article…

July 1st, 2013

Watch a TV Journalist Debunk Nestlé’s Water Rhetoric

By Briana Kerensky

Working to expose the truth about Nestlé’s dangerous and unethical bottled water sales sometimes feels like trying to storm a castle. Nestlé, the largest purveyor of bottled water in the world, hides their efforts to privatize public water sources behind walls of powerful marketing schemes. They don’t sell water; they sell a lifestyle of “health” and “wellness.” Nestlé tries to pass its product off as “Pure Life,” as their most popular brand’s name suggests. So how are smart consumers supposed to fight against “Pure Life?”

Well last week, Nestlé’s castle started to show some cracks. In a great segment on Russia Today’s “Breaking the Set,” host Abby Martin responded to a video message from the corporation in which they tried to defend their water-grabbing tendencies. In the video, a Nestlé spokesperson claims that the corporation’s top priorities are consumers, the environment and the human right to water.

The truth is, as Martin makes clear, that Nestlé’s only real priority is padding its bottom line. In the “Breaking the Set” segment, which you can watch below, the reporter refutes the corporation’s statements, pointing out that consumers are wasting money on a product that costs thousands of times more than tap water from their faucet, even though almost half of bottled water comes from municipal water systems; Nestlé continues to tap ground water sources during times of drought. While Nestlé is currently promoting the human right to water through marketing schemes, this only came about after public backlash that ensued when Chairman and former CEO Peter Brabeck went on record saying that water is neither a public nor a human right.

Read the full article…

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