The Nestle company is the largest packaged foods corporation in the entire world, but the company has plenty of detractors based in large part because the actions of its bottled water division.
Chairman Emeritus Peter Brabeck once famously said that he believes only a little over one percent of drinking water is a “human right,” and while his assertions have been trumped up a little bit in order to paint the company as an evil entity, one thing’s for sure: the controversy surrounding their constant gobbling up of local water supplies is highly justified to say the least.
Nestle has made a vast fortune by securing local water supplies and then selling them back to people for handsome profit (in landfill-clogging plastic bottles, no less), and many people worry that their local municipalities and water supplies could be next.
And in many cases, citizens are powerless to stop it, as recent events in the Great Lakes State of Michigan have shown.
Nestle, State of Michigan Ignore 80,000 Petitions, OK Biggest Water Siphoning Ever
According to this article from the Detroit News, the Nestle company has officially been given the greenlight to increase water withdrawals in the state of Michigan by a whopping 60 percent from an aquifer on the west side of the state, despite widespread opposition against the move.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Natural Resources and the Attorney General’s office all decided to approve the move, which will lead to the withdrawal of up to 400 gallons per minute, from a well in White Pine Springs near Evart to be used for the Ice Mountain water brand.
The move came despite opposition from environmental groups, as well as over 80,000 public comments opposed to the permit. Only 75 were in favor of it, but the move was approved anyway.
C. Heidi Grether, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, said that the department was not able to base their decisions on public opinion because the law prevented them from doing so.
“Most of them related to issues of public policy which are not, and should not be, part of an administrative permit decision,” Grether said according to the News report.
“We cannot base our decisions on public opinion because our department is required to follow the rule of law when making determinations.”
Unfortunately for the tens of thousands of people who petitioned, and many more on social media just waking up to this news, it’s a powerless feeling considering the love and respect Michigan residents have for the state’s natural resources, which sparked a world famous tourism campaign called “Pure Michigan” centered around its natural beauty.
The Untold History of the Nestle Company and Why You Should Boycott
At the end of the day, everyone has their own decisions to make about which companies they should and should not support.
That being said, the Nestle company is a natural target for boycotts in large part because of actions like these. Bottled water may be better quality than tap water in most cases, especially when taken from a natural spring, but the pollution being caused by their overwhelming presence is creating dead zones in the environment (the biggest one in the U.S. is also linked to Tyson Foods).
Many people have especially taken issue with the company’s lack of financial support for the local communities they take water from to sell across the world. In Michigan, the company is allowed to mine water essentially for free due to $13 million in tax breaks, and has been doing so even during times when the city of Flint suffered due to lead contamination in its supplies.
And Nestle’s spokesperson in Michigan is none other than Deborah Muchmore, the wife of Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore.
Aside from water related scandals, Nestle has also been linked to a particularly bad E.coli outbreak, plastic-derived chemicals in milk that caused over 50,000 people to fall ill, and levels of lead in its noodles at about 17 times the safe limit.
These particular incidents happened in other countries, which may be somewhat understandable considering the immense size and scope of the company’s operations (albeit not acceptable).
But that’s just part of the reason why so many people are boycotting Nestle: is it really such a good idea to allow a massive multi-national corporation to control such vital natural resources on such a grand scale, considering the sheer amount of oversight and quality control it takes to make sure the consumer’s health is taken into account?
And is it really a good thing for our dwindling fresh water supplies to be placed in the hands of such an enormous corporation that cares more about its bottom line than anything else?
These are all questions we will continue to wrestle with. For now, you can support the people of Michigan and other fresh water stewards by boycotting Ice Mountain, and spreading the word about the true, untold history of the Nestle company as they continue to subvert the will of the people.
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