Nestlé: Global Water Predator
By Stephen Lendman
Nestlé is a global predator. It lies calling itself "the world's leading nutrition, health and wellness company."
"Our mission of 'Good Food, Good Life' is to provide consumers with the best tasting, most nutritious choices in a wide range of food and beverage categories and eating occasions, from morning to night."
Acquiring competitors secured it numerous water brands. They're listed under the heading "Nestlé Waters: The Healthy Hydration Company."
They include Aqua Spring, Deep Spring, Glaciar, Ice Mountain, Perrier, Poland Spring, and Pure Life among others. They're sold in dozens of countries worldwide.
It does so by stealing community water resources. It claims what's "good for business can also be beneficial to society. This is what we call Creating Shared Value," it claims.
It calls nutrition the only Nestlé "raison d'etre." Its concern for public health rings hollow. Profits alone matter.
"Rational water management is an absolute priority," Nestlé claims. It drains public aquifers and other water sources. It leaves communities high and dry when they're exhausted.
It's costly bottled water is no different from what most people in developed countries can get through their taps.
For sure it's no better. At times it's worse. In July 2013, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) headlined "Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?"
Its report discussed earlier findings. They show "bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water." Facts and figures don't lie.
They expose water predators like Nestlé. They rip off consumers. They make false claims to do so.
NRDC found "major gaps in bottled water regulation and conclude(d) that bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water."
Independent labs were used. They tested over 1,000 bottles of 103 brands.
One-third contained "significant contamination (i.e. levels of chemical or bacterial contaminants exceeding those allowed under a state or industry standard or guideline)."
Contaminants found in some samples included excessive coliform bacteria, and synthetic organic compounds. Ones named were toluene, xylene, styrene and others.
Flouride, phthalate, arsenic, nitrates, and other inorganic contaminants were found. Labeling stresses purity.
A January 2009 Food and Water Watch report was titled "All Bottled Up: Nestlé's Pursuit of Community Water," saying:
"Nestlé takes water from US communities" on the cheap. It "bottles and sells it. (It does so) for billions of dollars in profit. (It) dumps the environmental and other costs onto society."
It ignores community and citizen rights. It plunders for bottom line priorities. It bottles what's no different from tap water. It sells it "for thousands of times more cost" than what most people in developed countries can get cheap or free.
It contributes to pollution doing so. It from its plastic bottle production, as well as processing and distributing water.
It "greenwashe(s)" harmful environmental fallout. "Of the billions of empty plastic bottles that end up in landfills every year, Nestlé's brands" contribute hundreds of millions.
It's a global predator writ large. It's all take and no give. Weak regulatory oversight permits ripping off communities for profit.
Vandana Shiva calls privatized water "ecological terrorism." It contributes to global water crisis conditions. It causes overuse, waste and pollution.
It results in "the most pervasive, most severe, and most invisible dimension of the ecological devastation of the earth."
It's a road to "ecological crisis with commercial causes but no market solutions."
It "destroy(s) the earth and aggravate(s) inequality. Solving "an ecological crisis is ecological," she says. Solving "injustice is democracy."
Water is a fundamental human right. Nestlé claims it a food for sale. Shiva says water rights are natural and "usufructuary."
It can be "used." It can't be "owned." It belongs to everyone. It's part of the commons.
It's essential for life "under customary laws. (T)he right to water has been accepted as a natural, social fact."
It's "nature's gift." There's no substitute. It's vital "for sustenance needs." Life is "interconnected through water."
It's limited and exhaustible. Conserving it is essential.
"No one has a right to overuse, abuse, waste, pollute," or own it.
It's not a commodity. It belongs to everyone. Water predators like Nestlé exploit it for profit.
Stop Nestlé Waters.org calls itself "a gathering point for rural citizens fighting to preserve control of their water supplies and local economies from Nestlé."
"Why are we targeting Nestlé Waters," it asked? "Because Nestlé's predatory tactics in rural communities divide small towns and pit residents against each other."
"Because Nestlé reaps huge profits from the water they extract from rural communities - which are left to deal with the damage to watersheds, increases in pollution and the loss of their quiet rural lifestyle."
"Because Nestlé has a pattern of bludgeoning small communities and opponents with lawsuits and interfering in local elections to gain control of local water supplies."
"Because the environmental consequences of bottled water on our atmosphere, watersheds and landfills are simply too big to ignore."
Since 1993, McCloud, CA residents contested Nestlé's plan to build America's largest bottling plant. They intended a huge one million square foot facility.
McCloud's Services District contractually agreed. It did so secretly. No public input was allowed. Completion would have given Nestlé control of McCloud's water for 100 years.
It would have gotten it for virtually nothing. It operates the same way everywhere. It's no good neighbor. Plunder is its bottom line priority.
It interfered in local McCould elections. It funded campaigns of pro-company candidates. It bought their support. It intimidated opponents. It harassed them.
It "had their legal hit squad subpoena (their) private financial records."
It failed. Justice prevailed. In 2009, it abandoned plans to build in McCloud. It chose Sacramento instead.
Nestlé sued Fryeburg, ME five times. Doing so tried to litigate it into insolvency. It sought the right to steal its aquifer water. It wanted it by default.
Corporate predators operate this way. Nestlé's size and financial clout make it formidable.
Fryeburg's planning commission and citizens contested courageously. They opposed Nestlé's proposed 24/7 water pumping station. They faced long odds.
In return for intrusiveness, bullying, litigiousness, congestion, noise and pollution, Nestlé offered townspeople virtually nothing. It contested them up to Maine's Supreme Court.
In March 2010, it prevailed. It won the right to build a water pumping station. It did so despite overwhelming public opposition. It's empowered to steal Fryeburg's water.
Western Maine Residents for Rural Living attorney Scott Anderson fought a losing battle. Nestlé gets water from around two dozen wells. They're located in eight Maine communities.
It's bottling plants operate in Hollis, Poland Spring and Kingfield. It bears repeating. Nestlé's no good neighbor. It's a corporate predator writ large.
According to Stop Nestlé Waters.org, its "transgressions against rural communities and watersheds include communities from the Northwest, Michigan, Maine, Florida and Canada."
It profits by stealing their water. It usually gets what it wants. It does so by bribing and/or bullying local politicians. Other times, it prevails litigiously.
Not always. It failed in McCloud. Enumclaw, WA and Kennebunk, ME "summarily kicked (it) out of" their communities. It's not going quietly into the night.
Stealing water for virtually nothing is too profitable to abandon. Nestlé pursues every way possible to do it.
Stop Nestlé Waters.org uses "community-building powers of the Internet to counter Nestlé's big-dollar PR/legal/marketing legions."
It wants communities across America in control of their own water. It wants Nestlé and other water predators kept out.
In March 2012, Marseille, France hosted two international forums on water issues.
On March 16, 2012, Public Services International headlined "The resounding message from people's world water forum: Reclaim public water!"
The World Water Council promotes privatization. An Alternative World Water Forum opposes its agenda.
It focuses on water as a human right. It's a common good. It belongs to everyone. It's not a commodity for sale.
It supports establishing universal legal standards. It wants them in place to prevent corporate water predators from stealing public water.
It wants water free from corporate exploitation. It's an essential to life resource.
The Transnational Institute (TNI) promotes water justice. It says "(t)he 1990s witnessed an ideologically-driven global push for water privatisation that failed to deliver promised investments and pushed prices beyond the reach of the poorest."
"Water Justice believes it is critical to refocus the global water debate on the key (issue): how to improve and expand public water delivery around the world."
It facilitates reclaiming water as a public resource. It does so by working with "an international network of civil society activists, trade unionists, academics, as well as water utility managers and engineers."
Together they promote people-centred democratic public water servicesAdvocates and facilitate public-public partnerships (PUPs)."
They represent "civil society's voice in the UN's Global Water Operators Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA)."
The struggle to control world water pits communities and ordinary people against giant corporate predators.
At stake is what's essential to human life. It bears repeating. Water belongs to everyone. It's a universal right.
It's not the private domain of predators to exploit. Doing so is "ecological terrorism."
The struggle for water continues. It's a life sustaining resource too important to lose.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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