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Europe

Don’t Gimme That Filet-O-Fish!

A few of us here blinked our eyes a few times when we saw the headline, “McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish to carry MSC eco-label.” Did McDonald’s just earn itself an eco-label in Europe? Maybe it was the reputation of the fast food giant that fueled our doubt. But another reason behind our skepticism is the questionable claims behind the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label.

McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish is made with New Zealand hoki — a fish that many believe should not have been certified by MSC — and the fisheries that provide it have violated that country’s Fisheries Act. Because of the hoki’s troubled history, its certification by MSC has been controversial. MSC’s decision to certify McDonald’s’ hoki is a huge part of the problem.

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Europe

MIT’s Fracking Report Backs its Donors: Gas Companies

I almost gagged on my coffee when I finally got around to reading the corporate sponsored pro-fracking propaganda by MIT on natural gas, entitled, “The Future of Natural Gas.” Isn’t this academic institution embarrassed to sell its reputation to corporations?

I guess not, because right on its website, MIT advertises its enormous corporate funding for research and its proud affiliation with the oil and gas industry. Read its philosophy for yourself:

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Europe

Italian Voters Turn Out Against Water Privatization

Italians voted earlier this week to overturn laws established by Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government. Voters blocked efforts by the Italian government to privatize water, reestablish the nuclear energy program and grant Berlusconi immunity from prosecution. If you’ve perused some of the articles in places like The Washington Post, The New York Times or Bloomberg, you may have noticed that most of the attention was paid to Berlusconi and his political survival. But, to many of us, the most critical element of this story is that the people of Italy do not want their water privatized.

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Europe

Should We Irradiate Away Harmful Bacteria in Our Food?

When a food safety outbreak occurs, like the one that is unraveling currently in Europe, the topic of food irradiation makes headlines.

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Europe

The Next Big Thing In Industry: Water Profiteering

Last week I was in Berlin at the Global Water Summit 2011, a meet up for corporations that want to profit from water as it becomes scarcer. Sponsored by all the bad actors in the water industry, from Veolia to General Electric, the conference URL was www.watermeetsmoney.com. Even the Koch Brothers’ empire was represented (Koch Industries helped pollute water with its fossil fuel operations, so why not profit also from cleaning up the mess?)

My colleague, Anil Naidoo from the Council of Canadians, and I were invited to the meeting to debate the libertarian economist David Zetland and William Muhairwe, managing director of Uganda’s national water company. Both Zetland and Muhairwe are big proponents of full-cost pricing and dismissive of the government’s role in providing water.

Some may wonder why Anil and I would go there to debate, especially when the audience was comprised of people employed in the water industry. The truth is that there is no better place to really figure out what they are up to. An hour debate was a small price to pay for free entrance to the $2,500.00 event that gave us real insight into the newest plans of the global water cartel.

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Europe

Responsible Soy: Don’t Buy the Lie

Over here in Europe, we are working with other organizations on a new campaign to raise awareness about so-called “responsible soy”. As consumers, we often rely on labels to help us make an informed choice by telling us what is in the product. Companies have caught on, understanding that it has become increasingly difficult to convince the savvy consumer to buy a product they do not support. Their solution? Green-wash labels.

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Europe

Is Nestlé’s Pure Life Brand a Threat to Public Water?

In 2008, bottled water sales in the United States experienced a decline — one that lasted for two consecutive years. This was good news for water advocates, and bad news for the bottled water industry. Many believe this decline was due to a combination of a troubled economy and a growing consumer consciousness about bottled water’s negative environmental impacts. But, while the entire industry reported losses, one bottled water brand stood alone with increased sales: Nestlé Waters’ Pure Life.

But what allowed this brand to shine in an otherwise challenging marketplace for bottled water? Was it brilliant marketing, or does the Pure Life brand represent something more than just a bottled water product?

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Europe

Berlin Water Referendum Success an Inspiration for Global Water Movement

One year before the Alternative World Water Forum (known by its French acronym FAME) will take place in Marseille 2012, various peoples’ movements around Europe have witnessed landslide victories. Increased citizen participation has played a major role in the issues of water supply management and wastewater treatment, allowing these movements to take giant steps towards remunicipalization, or bringing the water back under public control.

This week we have an inspiring story for you from Berlin, Germany. 12 years ago, almost half (49.9 percent) of the Berlin Water Works (BWB) was privatized under Veolia and RWE. This led to price increase of 35 percent, one of the highest of any German city. Due to negotiated conditions, the Berlin Senate and the private investors decided to keep these contracts secret. As a result, a peoples’ initiative called the “Berliner Wassertisch” began challenging this and started a citizen’s referendum aimed at obtaining the publication of these contracts.

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Europe

Paris Sparkles

The New York Times reported this week that the city of Paris is now offering residents free sparkling water. While the program is ostensibly designed to wean Parisiennes off a popular guilty pleasure (red wine) we’re charmed that they’ve chosen the humble water fountain as the delivery method of choice for their efforts.

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Europe

When Hand Washing Is Too Much Like Pill Popping

Antibiotic resistance has become a real challenge for modern medicine. As bacteria grow stronger, there are few options for treating very sick people. Over the past decade, medical professionals have raised awareness about the need to curb the over-prescription of antibiotics. Likewise, tireless activists have fought to decrease the use of antibiotics in industrial agriculture. But dwindling options for medical treatment aren’t the only worry associated with antibiotic resistance. Many things in nature depend on bacterial to grow. Plants need bacteria in soil to grow.