Our country’s multi-billion dollar food industry is getting away with using our dinner plates as disposal sites for oil wastewater from dirty oil corporations in California like Chevron.
Water samples have determined that the wastewater contains toxic chemicals, some that are linked to cancer.
Food corporations like The Wonderful Company are exploiting their customers and the farmworkers who grow their food by profiting off of putting our health at risk. Known for nationally sold brands like POM Wonderful, Wonderful Pistachios and Halos mandarins, Wonderful has the political influence to stop this practice.
Oil companies in California’s Central Valley are selling the wastewater from their drilling operations to several local irrigation districts, which in turn sell it to growers to irrigate their crops This includes some of the growers behind well-known companies like The Wonderful Company, producer of Halos Mandarins.
The companies that sell their water to irrigation districts reported using 173 different chemicals between January 2014 and June 2016. However, nearly 40 percent of these were listed as “trade secret” or otherwise could not be identified.
Of the chemicals that could be identified:
Ten are known or suspected to cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization.
Eight are on California’s Proposition 65 list (of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm).
Five are highly toxic to mammals when consumed.
Fourteen have no published data on their toxicity to mammals.
California’s Central Valley Water Board has only recently begun to look into whether it is safe to use fracking wastewater for irrigation.
The Water Board has yet to conduct its own testing of the wastewater and the crops grown in it, and cannot assure the public that the practice is safe for consumers, farm workers, and the environment. One major roadblock is the sheer number of chemicals used in oil drilling.
The Cawelo Water District hired a laboratory to test root crops (like carrots) and citrus irrigated with oil wastewater for fewer than a dozen petroleum-based chemicals. They also tested nuts and grapes for a wider range of chemicals, but this still left out many chemical additives with possible health effects used by California oil companies.
Food companies growing in these irrigation districts include:
This practice of using toxic wastewater threatens the safety of our food, the farmers and workers who irrigate and pick the crops, and the environment. But now that the dirty secret is out, we don’t have to risk our health for oil industry profits: we can work together and ban this awful practice entirely.
So far, Food & Water Watch and partner organizations have garnered nearly half a million signatures from people opposed to the practice and calling for action to stop it. Join them below:
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