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As someone who has been actively concerned about food and water for almost half a century, I appreciate that Food & Water Watch is bringing accurate and important information to people spreading the word about issues that only a few of us used to be aware of.
Published on November 03, 2011 - Fact Sheets: Gas drillers use a water-intensive process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract natural gas from shale. The process injects millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, under high pressure to crack the rock formation to release natural gas. Much of that water returns to the surface, along with water from underground, contaminated fracking fluids and other, possibly radioactive, substances. Private water players can make money on both ends by selling water to drillers and then treating the wastewater.
Published on October 31, 2011 - Fact Sheets: Savefarmfamilies.org, a website launched on September 15, 2011, was purportedly created to help Alan and Kristin Hudson, who own a poultry operation located near Maryland’s Eastern Shore, pay their mounting legal bills from a lawsuit filed by the environmental non-profit Waterkeeper Alliance and its local member program, Assateague Coastkeeper. It claims to be a grassroots effort to help save the “family farm,” including the Hudsons’, from radical environmental groups. Unfortunately, it attempts to do so by perpetuating many myths about industrial chicken operations in Maryland and the lawsuit itself. In fact, SaveFarmFamilies.org is an “astroturfing” effort — an industry-generated website used to spread misinformation while purporting to be by farmers, for farmers. This fact sheet is intended to debunk some of the many inaccuracies and misstatements promoted by the website.
Published on October 30, 2011 - Fact Sheets: Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a drilling process used by the oil and gas industry to extract natural gas that is locked away in tight rock formations and buried deep within the earth. The process injects large quantities of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals under high pressure to break apart the rock and release the gas. Over the past decade, advances in fracking technologies have enabled the development of previously uneconomical sources of natural gas, so fracking has expanded rapidly. However, this expansion has faced increasing public resistance due to the resulting environmental pollution and public health problems. Frac sand is a type of industrial sand — which is often referred to as “silica sand” because of its high levels of silicon dioxide (SiO2). Frac sand is mined like other types of sand and gravel, which typically entails an open pit using standard mining equipment.
Published on October 20, 2011 - Fact Sheets: Residents across southeast Michigan must protect their water supply and fend off the looming threat of privatization. State lawmakers and officials have the ability to take away local decision-making powers and make it easier for private interests to control one of the largest water utilities in the country. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, water supplier for two in five people and sewage treatment provider for one in three people in the state, undoubtedly faces an uphill battle against dwindling sales and escalating needs, but privatization is not a viable option. It fails to address the system’s underlying problems and likely would only worsen Detroit’s water woes.
Illinois American Water and Aqua Illinois: Community Experiences with the Largest Investor Owned Water Utilities in IllinoisPublished on October 19, 2011 - Issue Briefs: How problematic is it for the public when it loses control of its water to a private corporation? Get the facts on the poor track records of Illinois American Water and Aqua Illinois and how they demonstrate that privatization is an unacceptable and irresponsible alternative to traditional public provision of water and sewer service. Many of the companies’ customers, both households and businesses, have reported paying too much for inadequate service. These consumer experiences underscore the importance of keeping w
Published on October 18, 2011 - Issue Briefs: In the public debate over government spending, the federal budget deficit and the U.S. Farm Bill, there has been increasing focus on proposals to reduce government subsidies to farmers growing corn, soybeans and other so-called commodity crops.
Published on October 18, 2011 - Reports: It is commonly argued that farm subsidies have led to the overproduction of commodity crops, such as corn, driving down the price of “junk food” made with commodity ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and partially hydrogenated soybean oil relative to healthier alternatives. This cycle, it is suggested, has led to increasing rates of obesity. Removing subsidies, the argument goes, would help combat obesity by discouraging overproduction of crops that are the base ingredients of unhealthy food. This seems like a logical argument, yet few if any of those making these arguments reference academic findings and economic analysis to support their claims. This white paper examines the public health and agricultural economics literature as well as primary and secondary agriculture policy documents. Based on this analysis, there is no evidence of a relationship between subsidies and the overproduction of commodity crops, or between subsidies and obesity. Instead, this paper finds that the deregulation of commodity markets – not subsidies – has had a significant impact on the price of commodities. Deregulation also has provided benefits and incentives to the food industry, including processors, marketers and retailers, and is one of a number of contributing factors impacting the availability of high-calorie processed foods in the marketplace.
Published on October 17, 2011 - Issue Briefs: When an essential resource from nature becomes privatized, access to it becomes market-driven, and decisions about how that resource is used are made by private interests that may lie thousands of miles beyond a community’s borders. Furthermore, when water or food is treated as a market commodity, it can become concentrated in the hands of a few powerful private interests. They can assert pressure on policymakers to achieve favorable rules for their shareholders—often to the detriment of consumers, producers and communities. The importance of keeping the global commons under public control is an issue at the heart of democracy.
Published on October 17, 2011 - Fact Sheets: Investor owned water utility companies are pushing unreasonable rate schemes on consumers across the country. These schemes involve special surcharges that automatically increase water bills without a full public review, so that private utility companies can more quickly make a return on certain water distribution projects and ensure their long-term profitability. The companies are essentially trying to boost their earnings and shed regulatory oversight that protects consumers.
Published on October 12, 2011 - Reports: Over the past decade, people have become increasingly conscious about the environmental, cultural and economic repercussions of their food choices, and a movement has emerged to support more diverse, sustainable options. This movement has extended to choices about seafood, as people take note of issues such as overfishing and the environmental ramifications of different types of fish farming.
Published on October 10, 2011 - Reports: Report (Europe): This report revisits the four U.S. taxpayer-supported factory fish farming experiments — in Hawaii, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico — that are described in Food & Water Watch’s previous reports, Seas of Doubt and the first edition of Fishy Farms. Because all of these research and demonstration projects have previously received government funding to advance the industry, we have traced the operations’ histories for lessons that can be drawn about the feasibility of ocean fish farming.
Published on September 30, 2011 - Fact Sheets: Offshore aquaculture is factory fish farming of the sea, growing fish in huge, often over-crowded cages out in ocean waters. It can be problematic for both the environment and the economy. The waste – fecal matter, uneaten food, and any chemicals or drugs used in the operation – flows directly into the ocean, and the result could be long-term damage to the seafloor. Despite its negative impacts, the following groups push for, or would profit from, factory fish farming in the United States and Europe.
Ganacias Privadas, Amenazas Públicas: Como La Agenda De La Gobernadora Martinez Protege A Las GrandePublished on September 27, 2011 - Fact Sheets: Desde el momento que llegó Susana Martinez a ser la gobernadora de Nuevo Mexico el primero de enero, 2011, ella ha trabajado desmantelar las protecciones al aire, la agua y tierra que benefician y que aprecian los Nuevo Mexicanos. La Gobernadora Martinez, entró con garbo con el apoyo conómico de las industrias de petróleo y gas, minería, súper-lechería y otras. Desafortunadamente ha demostrado poca moderación en concediendo los deseos de aquellos quienes quisieran revocarlas protecciones estatales cuales protegen al medio ambiente, también la seguridad y la salud pública.
Published on September 27, 2011 - Fact Sheets: From the moment Susana Martinez became New Mexico’s governor on January 1, 2011, she has worked to dismantle protections that benefit New Mexicans and the air, water and land they cherish. Unfortunately, Governor Martinez, who swept into office with the help of campaign donations from oil and gas, mining, mega-dairy and other big industries, has demonstrated little restraint granting the wishes of those who want to see the state’s environmental, safety and public health protections rolled back.
Published on September 27, 2011 - Reports: From the moment she became New Mexico’s governor on January 1, 2011, Susana Martinez has worked overtime to dismantle key protections that the state put in place for the benefit of New Mexicans and the air, water and land they cherish.
Published on August 30, 2011 - Fact Sheets: Major GM-producing countries, agribusinesses, biotech companies and the World Trade Organisation relentlessly pressure the European Union to lower regulatory legal and political landscape. Here is an overview of EU regulation of GMO cultivation and sales as of Summer 2011.
Published on August 11, 2011 - Fact Sheets: Catch shares are a system for managing our nation’s fisheries that are causing consolidation in the fishing industry at the expense of the livelihoods of thousands of smaller-scale, traditional fishermen and their communities. Such programs are being heavily touted as a means to promote sustainable fishing, but a closer look reveals they do not have a positive environmental record. Catch shares can incentivize the use of larger-scale boats, more damaging gear and wasteful fishing practices that hurt fish populations and the habitats on which they depend.
Pipe Dreams: What the Gas Industry Doesn’t Want you to Know about Fracking and U.S. Energy IndependencePublished on August 04, 2011 - Issue Briefs: Today, the oil and gas industry is loudly promoting natural gas production as a means of increasing American energy independence and national energy security. Industry representatives have specifically used this argument to lobby against federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the harmful technology that drillers hope to use to increase production by tapping into America’s shale rock formations.
Published on August 04, 2011 - Fact Sheets: The earnings of all but the richest people in America have been stagnant for the past four decades, making it harder for both urban and rural families to put healthy food on the table. The recession made the problem of food insecurity worse. By 2009, one in every seven rural residents and one in every nine urban residents received food stamps. How can we turn things around and build a healthier, fairer food system?
Published on July 28, 2011 - Issue Briefs: The U.N. General Assembly declared in July 2010 that access to clean water and sanitation is an essential human right, calling on states and organizations to help provide access for the 884 million people currently without safe drinking water and the more than 2.6 billion people without basic sanitation. In the past, public-private partnerships — agreements between governments and water companies for the private operation of publicly owned water systems — were heralded as a solution to meeting this crucial need. However, evidence is mounting that private control of water services can actually stand in the way of the human right to water more than it can help to achieve it. Although private utility management in itself may not constitute a violation of the right to water, as Violeta Petrova noted in the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, “[T]he particular circumstances in which privatization is carried out might give rise to substantive and procedural violations of the right to water.” Unfortunately, these circumstances are met all too often.