Ever since Nestle applied for the permit to increase pumping at the White Pine Springs well (PW 101)in Evart for its bottling operation in Stanwood in 2016, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation has been contesting this outrageous water grab. We have argued in public forums, educated across the state about the injustices this grab represents to the people and ecosystems of Michigan, and worked with organizations and citizens who submitted thousands of comments opposing the more than 200,000 gallons a day increase. Failure of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to deny this increase has left two former trout streams badly damaged. We have had a few victories along the way, but without strict enforcement by EGLE, the damage will continue.
Human rights advocates Thursday denounced a Supreme Court decision in favor of the U.S. corporate giants Nestlé USA and Cargill, which were sued more than a decade ago by six men who say the two companies were complicit in child trafficking and profited when the men were enslaved on cocoa farms as children. The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against the plaintiffs, saying they had not proven the companies' activities in the U.S. were sufficiently tied to the alleged child trafficking. The companies had argued that they could not be sued in the U.S. for activities that took place in West Africa. Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general under the Obama administration, represented the two companies and also argued that they could not be sued for complicity in child trafficking because they are corporations, not individuals.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, workers at the Nestlé manufacturing plant in Toronto’s west end are facing unfair conditions including part-time pay, pension cuts and precarious employment, and management is unwilling to negotiate a reasonable contract with its employees. As of May 19, more than 470 workers are on indefinite strike. Workers at the factory, which produces Kit Kat bars and is the the only manufacturer of Coffee Crisp in the world, started their picket line on May Day 2021. Long-term disputes around the security of permanent employment and a defined benefit pension plan have previously disrupted production at the facility. Negotiations toward a new contract fell through over the central issue of a “tiered” workforce, which is being used by the company to deny employees equal pay for equal work, according to Unifor Local 252, the union representing chocolate production and skilled trades workers.
Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) has filed a Petition for Judicial Review of the Final Decision and Order issued by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and its Director Liesl Clark in which the Department illegally dismissed a Contested Case challenging the highly controversial permit granted to Nestle Waters North America in 2018. The petition for review was filed in the Circuit Court for Ingham County, and in it, MCWC requests that the Court reverse Director Clark’s inaccurate determination that her Department didn’t actually have legal authority to hold a contested case related to the Nestle permit.
Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether the world’s largest cocoa corporations are liable for child slavery in their supply chains. For 15 years, six citizens of Mali who were trafficked as children to work on cocoa farms have sought legal damages from Cargill and Nestle USA under a 240-year-old anti-piracy law. The plaintiffs’ attorney told the court that the corporations “maintain a system of child slavery and forced labor in their Ivory Coast supply chain as a matter of corporate policy to gain a competitive advantage in the U.S. market.”
Evart is taking center stage in North America’s “water wars” as local advocates demand that Nestlé Waters North America revert its claimed rights to the White Pine Springs back to the public trust. These springs, a source for Ice Mountain’s bottled water brand, have long been subject to community opposition due to the company’s legacy of broken promises, ecological harm, and removal of our most precious public resource: our water. Nestlé Waters’ announcement last summer that it is considering the sale of its bulk bottled water business...
Michigan Court of Appeals Reverses Circuit Court Decision favoring Nestle and Upholds Township Zoning Ordinance that Denies Nestle Booster Station. Today the citizens of Osceola township in Evart, Michigan finally received their just reward for several years of legal battle to enforce their own zoning ordinance in the face of Nestle’s bullying tactics and corporate clout. The Michigan Court of Appeals, in a thirteen page document, reversed the erroneous decision of the Circuit Court which had overturned the township’s zoning ruling against Nestle’s booster station needed to increase extraction at the White Pine Springs well. The permit to increase that production was not a factor in this case. That is still awaiting a ruling in the Contested Case filed by Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.
Plastic pollution in the oceans is a huge, disgusting problem. Which is why it’s pretty fitting that Greenpeace decided to raise awareness of one company’s contributions with huge, disgusting trash monsters. On Tuesday, Greenpeace activists hauled a 15-foot-tall heap of garbage, artfully crafted to resemble one of those deep sea fish that’s about 90 percent jowl, out in front of the Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. An even bigger trash monster was delivered earlier in the day to the company’s global headquarters in Switzerland, while similar leviathans cropped up in Italy, Kenya, and the Philippines, Greenpeace oceans campaigner Kate Melges told Earther in a phone interview.
Yes, water is a human right, fundamental to life - yet if you are an average American, you would be lucky to have access to it, at a price you can afford to pay and not be poisoned. Just ask the residents of Flint, Michigan - a low income community forced for years to use expensive bottled water for everything from cooking to showers - they believe their tap water is good for one thing, and one thing only: To flush the toilet. Flint first gained notoriety for lead-poisoned water in 2014, when the water source for the municipal water supply was changed from Detroit to Flint's own river.
We ask all our supporters to stay informed on the issues through our website saveMIwater.org. We anticipate that those organizations and individuals who work as defenders of Michigan’s water commons will assist us in paying the bills for this contested permit. It isn’t cheap, but it is necessary. The State must not get away with ignoring its public trust responsibilities and illegally granting Nestle the water of the commons to convert to private profit at the expense of our environment and our use. Over 80,000 people already expressed their opposition and were ignored.
On Monday May 7th, business and economics sites were abuzz with the latest news that Nestle and Starbucks are striking a $7.15 billion coffee licensing deal. The cash deal would grant Nestle exclusive rights to sell Starbucks coffee and tea around the world giving Starbucks a powerful global boost and giving Nestle a premium brand to peddle. The deal would help reinforce Nestle’s number one coffee company position and would fortify Starbucks from the dip they’ve experienced in the U.S. due to the proliferation of high-end coffee chains selling $10 lattes complete with milk art and icy stares from suspendered baristas. The angle that’s missing, however, from the business and economic news sites is what deals like this mean for both people and planet. What kind of companies are getting these billion-dollar boosts? Who benefits?
Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, announced last month that they would stop purchasing palm oil from a Guatemalan producer tied to human rights violations, environmental destruction, and corruption. The move was the result of years of pressure from Guatemalan and international activists. Nestlé’s decision to end relations with Reforestadora de Palmas de El Peten S.A. (REPSA), stems from the company’s role in the contamination of the Río Pasión river in northern Guatemala, and the corruption and impunity that followed. “Nestlé’s decision to cut ties with REPSA is a step in the right direction and a victory for all the activists who have fought for years to bring REPSA’s actions to light,” Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Director at Friends of the Earth, wrote in a press statement.
A concerted push is underway in South America that could see one of the world’s largest reserves of fresh water soon fall into the hands of transnational corporations such as Coca-Cola and Nestle. According to reports, talks to privatize the Guarani Aquifer – a vast subterranean water reserve lying beneath Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay – have already reached an advanced stage. The deal would grant a consortium of U.S. and Europe-based conglomerates exclusive rights to the aquifer that would last over 100 years. Named after the Guarani indigenous people, the Guarani Aquifer is the world’s second largest underground water reserve and is estimated to be capable of sustainably providing the world’s population with drinking water for up to 200 years.
By Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. Mecosta, MI – Great Lakes water protector groups including U.S., Canadian, and Indigenous representatives united at the Water Is Life: Strengthening the Great Lakes Commons conference in Flint on September 29 and 30, 2017. Sixteen Water Protection organizations representing urban and rural communities from Michigan and Ontario along with local residents, Indigenous representatives and activists attended this unprecedented international summit on water justice around the Great Lakes. Attendees pledged to challenge Nestlé and end the water crises in Flint, Detroit and Indigenous nations.
By Dylan Penner for Council of Canadians. Flint, MI - Sixteen water protector groups along with local residents, Indigenous representatives and activists attended the Water Is Life: Strengthening the Great Lakes Commons in Flint this past weekend. Attendees pledged to challenge Nestlé’s water takings and end the water crises in Flint, Detroit and Indigenous nations. Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians presented the keynote speech on Friday evening to a crowd of more than 200 people at Woodside Church in Flint. “The summit this past weekend was a powerful moment for water justice organizations, Great Lakes residents and Indigenous representatives. We came together to challenge the issues that our governments are failing to address.”