We’re just four days into “Toxic Isn’t Tasty,” our 2016 Think Before You Pink® campaign, and already our corporate targets are feeling the pressure. Since Tuesday, hundreds of you have sent letters to Wonderful Citrus and Bee Sweet Citrus demanding that they stop pinkwashing and stop watering our food with oil wastewater.
After just one day, Bee Sweet Citrus blocked our members from sending them emails. Even though Bee Sweet uses a pink ribbon on their products and claims to care about women affected by breast cancer, they apparently have no desire to actually hear from them. But that won’t stop us from standing up to this pinkwasher. Rest assured, we will still be delivering your letters to Bee Sweet, so make sure to take action!
Meanwhile, yesterday, the president of Wonderful Citrus, David Krause, started emailing our members who had contacted him about their concerns. Mr. Krause admits that Wonderful Citrus uses oil wastewater to irrigate their citrus and then tried to defend it. Here’s what we have to say:
- Krause says the oil wastewater Wonderful Citrus uses is not “fracking water.” We never said it was. The potential health risks of the chemicals in oil wastewater are not limited to the fracking process. All oil extraction processes rely on toxic chemicals to drill, maintain, and clean wells. And these chemical additives can be found in wastewater from routine oil production as well as fracking operations. An important new report released this week by the Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE Healthy Energy), University of California – Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific examined the chemical additives used in oil operations that supply wastewater for crop irrigation. Of the chemicals researchers were able to analyze, they found that “46 (43%) of them can be classified as potential chemicals of concern from human health and/or environmental perspectives and require more thorough investigation.” And a full 38% of the chemical additives could not be “sufficiently identified for preliminary hazard evaluation” because oil corporations are concealing them as “trade secrets.”
- Krause says there is adequate testing, monitoring and regulation of oil wastewater. This is bogus by any definition of the word “adequate.” There is no adequate state oversight of this type of irrigation to ensure the process is safe. Mr. Krause points to limited and/or preliminary tests and monitoring on the wastewater and crops, which don’t even test for all of the chemicals used in the oil extraction process. As the new report released this week states, “Many of the chemicals used on oil fields do not have standard analytical protocols for their detection in water, so current water quality monitoring programs are mainly focused on naturally occurring contaminants.” The report then recommends that “given the direct nature of this potential human exposure pathway, further investigation … is warranted.”
- Krause targets his criticism at our Executive Director Karuna Jaggar, (who has, by the way, personally written back to every letter he has sent) effectively trying to discredit her by ignoring the organization she represents, the partners we work with, and the thousands of BCAction members across the country who are outraged about corporations’ pinkwashing hypocrisy. Breast Cancer Action carries the voices of our tens of thousands of members standing up for women’s health. And we are one of twelve organizations in the Protect California Food coalition, which is calling for an end to the use of oil wastewater for crop irrigation. There are tens of thousands of individuals, organizations, and scientists who think the practice of irrigating food crops with oil wastewater is a bad idea.
- Krause says that Wonderful Citrus “takes great pride in its commitment to public health.” But if they were truly committed, they would stop using oil wastewater to irrigate their citrus now and use their power to end the use of this type of irrigation in California altogether.
Ultimately, Mr. Krause wants us to believe what he says without questioning what he does. A pink ribbon is not enough to show that Wonderful Citrus cares about breast cancer.
The use of oil wastewater to irrigate crops has not been proven safe for the public or for the harm workers who are exposed firsthand to these chemicals. That’s why there’s a food safety panel that’s assessing the health risks associated with it right now.
Keep the pressure on. It’s unacceptable that these companies are using their farm workers and the public as guinea pigs in a public health experiment. Take action now, and then take the Toxic-Isn’t-Tasty-Ten-Friend Challenge by getting 10 friends to join you. And if you heard from Mr. Krause and don’t like that he’s asking you to essentially sit down, be quiet, and eat your oranges, write him back and tell him what you think! And then tell us you did and what you said!
By raising our voices together, we can and do make change. Keep up the pressure. Tell the executives at Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Citrus there is nothing wonderful or sweet about citrus irrigated with oil wastewater.