Blog Posts

March 5th, 2013

Building Bridges Across the Global Water Justice and Anti-Fracking Movement

The 2013 World Social Forum will be held this March 26-30 in Tunisia, where only two years ago, a revolution began and resulted into a historic change that created a ripple effect across the region. Now, Tunisia is an inspiration to movements both old and new, across the globe.

Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe are busy getting ready to participate in the World Social Forum on water, fracking and food sovereignty issues. As a coordinator of the European Water Movement, our main aim is to build up links with local and regional groups and set up a Euro-Mediterranean Alliance for Water to facilitate the exchange of experience and information. Many North African countries are currently facing the same problems we have in Europe namely with the threat of privatization of water services and unconventional energy sourcing projects such as hydraulic fracturation. The same private water companies and energy companies are trying to push through projects in the North African region which have been met with resistance by civil society in Europe. Read the full article…

March 4th, 2013

Why should we scrap the EU Emissions Trading Scheme?

Food & Water Europe has joined a growing group of civil society organisations in calling on the EU to abolish its Emission Trading System (ETS) to open space for truly effective climate policies.

More than 90 organisations from around the world launched this campaign called Time to Scrap the ETS with a declaration that lists the structural flaws of the ETS and the risks of trying to fix it.

Why are we supporting it?

The EU’s main policy to address climate change has taken attention away from the need to transform our dependency on fossil fuels and growing consumption. High prices were supposed to curb carbon emissions in the EU, instead prices have been very volatile and have been on a constant downward spiral since early 2011. Now that prices have dropped to less than 2.81€ per tonne, it is clear that this is not a solution to decreasing emissions and that it is time to make a new space for effective and fair climate policies.

Cap and trade policies have not been proven to work, they rely on unverifiable offsets and permit allocation schemes that benefit companies which are already polluting. The EU ETS is also being carried out at great public expense. European citizens are already going through austerity measures in a time of financial crisis and are being forced to bear the cost of running the ETS, including legislation, regulation and much of the quantification of emissions that carbon markets require. Read the full article…

February 14th, 2013

EU Horsemeat Scandal: Pie and a Pint Anyone?

By Eve Mitchell

If we’ve learned anything in the past few weeks, it must be that the UK Food Standards Agency’s “If you tell us it’s there, we’ll look for it” approach is not a recipe for food safety.

As far as we can tell now the situation is that Irish authorities, almost by accident when trialling a new protocol, found a good deal of horsemeat in foods processed in Irish facilities, including for export. This led to widespread product recalls, more testing in Ireland and the UK and rapid assurances all round that everything was under control.

Further testing revealed even more adulterated meat, including products labelled beef that tested at 100% horsemeat. The wider the net is cast, the bigger the problem is revealed to be, and it is all too clear we are nowhere near understanding what we have been feeding our kids quite yet. If this is “under control,” we’re in trouble.

Today’s revelation is that horsemeat from the UK exported to France into the human food chain, quite possibly for processing and re-entry to the UK, contained the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, often called Bute, which is unsafe for human consumption. There are now two very serious issues at play: 1) criminality in labelling due to what has all the hallmarks of major international fraud, and 2) criminality in presenting unfit meat for sale. Read the full article…

February 6th, 2013

The Collapse of Europe’s Carbon Market and the Future of American Policy

Common ResourcesBy Mitch Jones

Two recent news items highlight the need for policy makers concerned about climate change – which should be all of them, but sadly it isn’t – to rethink their recent approach to reducing carbon emissions.

When President Obama gave his Inaugural Address on January 21, he highlighted the need to take action on climate change. The mention of climate change, after the issues was largely ignored in the election before Sandy hit, was lauded by environmentalists as a sign that the Obama administration was going to do some to curb emissions. What that something would be was left unsaid.

Just three days after President Obama’s speech, carbon prices in Europe’s cap and trade system plummeted to an all time low, causing speculation that the trading regime stands on the verge of collapse. My colleague Geert de Cock wrote a post last week that explains how and why the carbon market in European has failed. Food & Water Europe has joined with other organizations across Europe calling for the EU trading system to be abolished.

The collapse of the EU system – basically a pay-to-pollute scheme – shows that as we move forward to combat climate change in the US we cannot return to the policies put forward as recently as 2009. In that year the US House passed a cap and trade bill that would have created a nationwide carbon market. And the initial news is that the administration is looking at actually reducing emissions, rather than hoping a system that hasn’t worked anywhere, will suddenly start working.

We need to address climate change now, but not by adopting pay-to-pollute deregulatory schemes cooked up in right wing think tanks. We need to truly reduce emissions, building on successes like the increase in fuel efficiency standards implemented by the Obama administration, and committing to ending our addiction to dirty fossil fuels.

January 31st, 2013

I Spy a Corporation Desperate to Regain its Market Shares

By Kate Fried Food & Water Watch is working to Keep Nestlé out of the Gorge

Thanks in part to the consumer backlash against wasteful, unnecessary bottled water Nestlé’s sales figures are declining in the United States, Europe and Australia. The company has recently resorted to unorthodox, nay, illegal measures to maintain its stranglehold over the earth’s vital food and water resources. Even before the company’s share of the bottled water business fell by two percent in the west in 2011, Nestlé ripped a page from a James Bond villain’s playbook, turning to good old-fashioned espionage to protect its corporate interests. Read the full article…

January 29th, 2013

Will We See the 10-Year Anniversary of Emissions trading in Europe?

Recent price collapse shakes European belief in emissions trading.

By Geert deCock

There are still some people, who deny that climate change is happening, though recent events – record droughts, frequent hurricanes, floods – are perfectly in line with the predictions by climate scientists. In the camp of those who do recognize climate change as a serious threat, there is another divisive issue about how to effectively and efficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The debate revolves in particular about the role that emissions trading should play. Emissions trading has received broad support among those political leaders in Europe and the U.S., who would like to see some action on addressing climate change. The European Union has led efforts to use emissions trading as a central policy to deliver on its climate targets. It established its Emission Trading System (ETS) in 2005 and the results so far have been underwhelming, to put it mildly. While the position of the ETS as Europe’s flagship policy was unquestionable until recently, last week’s price collapse led to an existential crisis for emissions trading in Europe.

What happened? The European Union and its Emission Trading System – the world’s largest carbon market – was supposed to be the cornerstone of the EU’s climate policy. However, carbon prices in Europe have been very volatile and they have been on a constant downward slide since early 2011. Over the last two years, prices have been sinking non-stop: From EUR 20 in early 2011, to about half at the end of 2011, to just EUR 5 per tonne of CO2 by the end of 2012. Despite this, policy-makers kept up the mantra that this system can be fixed. However, the tone of the debate changed, when carbon prices dropped to EUR 2.81 per tonne on January 24.

When the ETS was designed, it was expected that the prices of carbon credits would be around €30. Apart from a short peak, such high prices never materialized. Now, for the first time, key policy-makers in Brussels and across the EU admit the failure of the ETS to deliver emission reductions. For the first time, Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate, warned that the ETS is at risk of collapse, due to its low prices. The Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini even went so far to describe the ETS as “irreparable” and expressed a move towards a carbon tax. Read the full article…

January 22nd, 2013

Grist’s Foodopoly Q&A: The Extended Version

Foodopoly by Wenonah HauterLast week, a condensed version of Andy Bellatti’s interview with Wenonah Hauter on her new book Foodopoly ran on Grist: Aisle be damned: How Big Food dominates your supermarket choices. We thought our blog readers would appreciate seeing the entire interview, which goes into the specifics on how fractured our food system really is,  how it got that way and what we can do about it.

1. In Foodopoly, you make a very convincing argument that, unlike what many in the “good food” movement think, crop subsidies are not the problem to solve, but rather the symptom of a much larger problem. Can you expand on that concept? Read the full article…

December 14th, 2012

Reports From the UN Climate Negotiations in Doha, Qatar

Image by Victor Korniyenko. Used by permission according to the rules of the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

By Daniel Weinshenker, Former FWW Intern

Last summer I was an intern for the New Brunswick, New Jersey office of Food and Water Watch, where I got to see state-level politics and environmental negotiations at work. So when The University Centre for Development Cooperation (Universitair Centrum voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking – UCOS) in Belgium gave me the opportunity to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference, informally referred to as Doha 2012 or COP 18, I knew I would get to see similar work on an international level.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and increasingly erratic weather patterns, more Americans are accepting that global warming is real, and that we must take action both in the United States and in global agreements. Unfortunately, the U.S. did not sign the Kyoto Protocol to lower global green house gas emissions, and U.S. negotiators are widely considered to be playing a spoiler role.

At every passing round of climate negotiations, I hope that the United States will join this fold of the international community. As a global power, we should lead on this issue and set a good example. Instead we are receiving tongue-in-cheek awards like Fossil of the Day.

Read the full article…

December 13th, 2012

Are the GM Industry and Failed Bankers Controlling UK Agriculture Policy?

By Eve Mitchell

Eve Mitchell is EU Food Policy Advisor for Food & Water Europe.

Scientific Testing Is To Learn This week The Telegraph splashed a story that the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, had announced the UK should grow and sell more genetically modified (GM) foods. The story was then picked up by other outlets, and a public outcry followed, including many strong comments on those papers’ websites against any such move.

Much of the media coverage was nearly identical, suggesting precious few sources were consulted, especially since some pieces repeated the same factual errors. Here are some of them:

  • Paterson based his stand on his belief that GM crops have “real environmental benefits” saying, “I’m very clear it would be a good thing.” The UK ran Farm Scale Trials of GM crops to determine their safety. The results, published in 2004, showed damage to farmland wildlife, so GM cultivation was shelved – a fact conveniently forgotten by the UK government. The report also found that even if GM crops did ever manage to provide better environmental outcomes than conventional farming at some point in the future, what we do to our fields and streams now is extremely damaging and cannot be used as a comparison for anything called “sustainable”. In addition, countries growing GM crops like the U.S. are now suffering serious direct complications including the development of pests and weeds the technology cannot control and dramatically increased chemical applications by farmers trying to cope. The results for food production and toxic residues in food remain to be seen.
  • There is a “block” or “ban” on GM cultivation in the EU. This is simply untrue. GM crops are grown in Spain and to a limited degree in a few other EU countries. The fact that more GM crops are not available for cultivation in the UK is due to the normal operation of the authorisation process and democracy. Even the pro-GM European Commission defended Europe’s right to operate it’s own approvals of GMOs when the U.S. complained to the WTO. The UK and the Commission now find the results of the democratic process inconvenient, so the Commission presses unwanted GMOs into the market, and the UK blames the EU for lack of “progress”. Read the full article…
September 28th, 2012

Time for Europe to Unite: Firenze 10+10

By Gabriella Zanzanaini

Update: Firenze 10+10 brought together many civil society movements across Europe over 4 days of discussion and planning. Food & Water Europe coordinated the European Water Assembly where an agenda for 2013 was set for the water movement. We also participated in the convergence sessions on the Commons with groups working on food sovereignty, fracking, large infrastructures, health, education and sports. 

We invite all of you to join us on the following common European action dates decided in Firenze: 23-27 January 2013 will be a week against the financialization of nature and banks to coincide with the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, 22 March 2013 is World Water Day where decentralized actions on water will take place all over Europe with a common action in Brussels and 23 March 2013 will be an European Day of Action against the EU Summit in Brussels. Stay tuned and mark your calendars! 

 

What is Firenze 10+10 and How Is Food & Water Europe Central to It?

Food & Water Europe will participate in Firenze 10+10 by coordinating the pillar on the Commons; as part of the of the newly formed European Water Movement and through the Financialization of Nature network which fights to stop the “assetization” of our natural commons.

It has become increasingly evident that local movements need to coordinate at the European level as well. Local victories, though powerful, are no longer sufficient to withstand pressure coming from the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank & International Monetary Fund), who is pushing through mass privatization through conditionalities for rescue funds.

Europe needs to build a new European Public Space. We need to look at the next 10 years with common objectives, agendas and strategies. The crisis –in its multiples facets – and austerity policies can be overcome, but we need to move beyond our fragmentation and our one-issue focuses to stand on common ground.

Ten years ago, Florence, Italy hosted the first ever European Social Forum. It constituted an extraordinary moment in the construction of a continent-wide demonstration, presenting analyses, proposals and solutions which – had they been translated into policies – would have helped to avoid the social and democratic crisis in which Europe finds itself now. 

Ten years on, there is neither nostalgia nor a desire to celebrate what we had then; even less do we intend today to repeat paths which belong to that time and that stage of development: the social movements have changed, new actors have emerged, there have been defeats but also victories, such as that of the water movement in Italy which won a crushing referendum against privatization last year.

So come join us in Firenze to build convergences and a common action for Europe. 

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