Food & Water Justice | Food & Water Watch
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Food & Water Justice

Food & Water Justice is the legal arm of Food & Water Watch’s community organizing, policy and legislative work. We seek to use the judiciary system as a vehicle for positive change and provide legal support for many of Food & Water Watch’s campaigns.

Click to learn more about the issues Food & Water Justice work on:

Bringing Transparency to Factory Farming

Food & Water Justice seeks to bring transparency and accountability to the environmentally devastating practices of factory farming. We’re using the justice system to shine a light on an industry that has, for decades, been operating in the dark. Even today, many states refuse to divulge factory farm waste handling and enforcement records. We work with our state partners to monitor proposed state laws and regulations and aim to make the regulations more thorough and to make information about factory farm pollution as transparent as possible.

At the federal level, Food & Water Justice fights to maintain the integrity of the Freedom of Information Act to allow us access to factory farm data. We believe that transparency is not only the most important building block upon which our environmental and public health laws were erected; it’s essential to a vibrant democracy.

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Bringing Accountability to the Meat Industry

Despite the fact that factory farms have been regulated under the Clean Water Act since the 1970s, it is well-documented that they remain major sources of pollution. The EPA and states do not have the resources or the political will to properly regulate factory farms, and the meat industry works hard to limit or remove Clean Water Act protections.  Food & Water Justice files cases to hold factory farm operators responsible for managing their waste and to preserve Clean Water Act protections.

A major focus of Food & Water Justice has also been to shift legal accountability for factory farm waste to the large companies that control all aspects of the agriculture industry. As it now stands, the biggest corporations, such as Perdue and Tyson,  reap all the benefits of factory chicken farming production, but bear none of the burden of waste disposal. We believe that they should be ultimately responsible for their waste—not the farmers with whom they contract. Hundreds of millions of pounds of animal waste are produced annually on the Eastern Shore alone and are dumped into the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and many other areas of the country suffer from the same problem.

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Preventing the Proliferation of Factory Farms

Food & Water Justice helps communities fight projects that have the potential to cause the expansion of factory farms or further trap individual farmers in an unsustainable and unjust industrial model.

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Water Pollution Trading

One of Food & Water Justice’s primary efforts is to fight water pollution trading. Trading is built on the false premise that polluters have the right to use our public trust waterways as waste disposal sites.

While many environmental groups embrace trading as a means to reduce agriculture-related pollution, Food & Water Justice sees trading as yet another voluntary approach that will not only have little or no impact on pollution from farms. Trading also means that our wastewater treatment plants and coal-fired power plants can produce even more of these harmful pollutants. Food & Water Justice has filed a number of lawsuits to protect communities by establishing that water pollution trading is illegal under the Clean Water Act.

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Food & Water Justice’s fracking work focuses primarily on pipeline fights in the Northeast and on defending local fracking bans enacted in communities across the country, notably in Colorado and California.

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Water Privatization

Food & Water Watch supports legal efforts to stop the control of water resources and infrastructure from shifting from the public to private sector. Numerous examples have shown us that when local water systems are privatized, rates increase and the quality of service decreases, while the utilities provide fewer jobs to the community.

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Food Safety

Food & Water Watch supports legal efforts to make sure that our food is safe to eat and our food system is properly regulated. We make sure existing standards are enforced and work for new standards in areas like genetically engineered crops and food labeling.

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GE Salmon

The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to unleash genetically engineered (GE) salmon into our food supply. This GE salmon, which is designed to grow twice as fast as normal salmon, would be the first “transgenic” animal allowed into the U.S. food supply and would be unlabeled on grocery store shelves, giving consumers no ability to decide whether to eat this engineered food. Food & Water Justice supports legal efforts to stop the approval of of GMOs such as the GE salmon.

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