This month, we’ve joined forces with Breast Cancer Action in their “Think Before You Pink” campaign. It’s been two days since we launched our campaign against Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Company and they are already feeling the pressure. Since Monday, more than 10,000 of you have sent letters to Wonderful Company (the makers of Halos©) and Bee Sweet Citrus demanding that they stop watering our food with oil wastewater.
Right away, Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Company started replying to our members. Both companies admit that they use oil wastewater to irrigate their citrus — and then try to defend it. Bee Sweet even told our members that they received “disinformation.” But the only disinformation is what Bee Sweet and Wonderful Company are putting out.
Wonderful Company says that “this water is treated extensively to remove as much oil as possible. It is then filtered and tested at multiple locations for the presence of contaminants. This rigorous treatment process brings the water’s hydrocarbon levels back to drinking water standards. It is a safe, reliable supply that is carefully monitored and regulated.” But the truth is the use of oil wastewater to irrigate crops has not been proven safe for the public or for the farm workers who are exposed firsthand to these chemicals.
Oil extraction processes rely on toxic chemicals to drill, maintain, and clean wells. And these chemical additives can be found in wastewater. A new report released last month examined the chemical additives used in oil operations that supply wastewater for crop irrigation. They found that “a total of 173 different chemical additives were used in these oil and gas fields, of which more than one-third (38 percent) were not able to be sufficiently identified for preliminary hazard evaluation, largely due to the withholding of information under proprietary claims.” Of the chemicals researchers were able to analyze, they found that 43 percent of them can be classified as “potential chemicals of concern from human health and/or environmental perspectives and require more thorough investigation.”
There is also no adequate state oversight of this type of irrigation to ensure the process is safe. Wonderful Company points to their limited tests on the wastewater and crops, but they don’t even test for all of the chemicals used in the oil extraction process. Why? Because you can’t test for something you don’t know exists. As the new report released this week states, “It is difficult or impossible to estimate risks to consumers, farmworkers, or the environment, when identification of chemical additives remains in trade secret form and/or lacks toxicity and environmental profile information.”
Regardless of their misleading responses, we have their attention. Keep up the pressure! Tell Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Company to stop watering our food with oil wastewater. If you’ve already taken action, share this action with your friends!
Originally published at https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org.