A handful of corporations like Walmart, Koch Industries, Monsanto and ExxonMobil wield immense power in our democracy – whether it’s through court decisions like Citizens United, through corporate-run policy shops like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), or through industry front groups promoting technologies that harm the environment. By funding research programs at our universities and exerting powerful influence over our media, they essentially control the debate over important issues affecting our health and our communities.
With your help, we can change that.
Corporate influence over our democracy is one of the biggest threats to our food, water and climate. But if we can inspire enough people across the country to stand together to shift the balance of power over the things we can’t live without—our food, water, and the environment on which it all depends—we can fix our broken democracy.
Money In Politics
In 2010, the Supreme Court made their disastrous Citizens United decision, allowing corporations like Koch Industries and Chevron to spend unlimited money to influence elections — empowering corporations over people.
We've seen a flood of corporate money rush into our political system since Citizens United. What’s worse, this spending is done entirely under the shroud of secrecy.
Take action now to stop secret corporate influence over our elections.
Industry Lobbying Over Food Policy
Giant food, agriculture and biotech corporations wield tremendous power over our decision makers. For example, the agricultural and biotech industries spent more than half a billion dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying during a ten year timeframe. And the food and chemical industries spent nearly $50 million to beat one ballot measure alone to label GMO foods in California.
Corporate Control Over The Public Debate on Fracking
Over the past several decades, right wing foundations, funded by the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel interests, have supported a network of think tanks that not only promote pro-industry policies through its so-called experts, but they’ve gone so far as to deny the threat of climate change. Companies like ExxonMobil and Koch Industries have extensively funded groups working to undermine climate science. Likewise, through industry associations and front groups, the oil and gas industry promotes fracking while understating or misrepresenting its risks.
The industry also spends a great deal of money on promoting fossil fuels and knocking clean energy. Even academia isn’t immune from the charms of industry money.
Industry-Backed Policy Shops
The American Legislate Exchange Council may sound benign, but their agenda is dangerous to our health and environment. Through ALEC, companies like Monsanto, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil have helped develop model state legislation to serve their bottom lines. Whether it’s promoting water privatization, attempting to prevent people from knowing where their food comes from, or stopping local initiatives to ban fracking, ALEC is steering your decision makers toward bad policies. ALEC has even called for the dissolution of the Environmental Protection Agency and supports initiatives to designed to restrict voting, so that people prioritizing corporate interests can remain in office.
People Power Can Beat Corporate Influence
The problems we’re facing are immense, but not insurmountable. Around the world, activists have pushed back against corporate influence at the UN and the World Water Forum. And here at home, working hand in hand with grassroots allies, we’ve stopped privatizations of our water systems, halted the use of arsenic in chicken production, and built pressure to ban fracking.
While we’ll never have the financial resources to compete on a playing field lined with corporate money, we do have considerable people power. By raising our voices together, we can create real and lasting change.
Won’t you join us as we repower people and depower corporations?
Corporations are seeking to control and restrict our increasingly scarce and polluted water supplies. But we must treat water like the priceless resource it is—and as a human right.
Corporate Control of Water
Water is essential for life, but increasingly, it is viewed as a source of windfall profits. This is unacceptable. Access to clean water should not be based on who can pay the most.
Food & Water Watch opposes the commodification and privatization of water in all forms. We support managing water supplies as a public trust, improving our public water systems and making water service safe and affordable for all.
SUPPORT THE WATER ACT!
Bottled water means massive corporate profits—and less support for our public water. Multinational corporations like Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola sell single-use plastic bottles – waste that ends up in landfills and ultimately, litters our oceans – for thousands of times what it costs to get that water from the tap. While they market bottled water as a beverage of convenience, it’s coming at the expense of our public water infrastructure — which has provided affordable and convenient access to water for over a hundred years.
We shouldn’t have to rely on corporations like Nestlé for this life-giving resource.
We shouldn’t have to rely on corporations like Nestlé for this life-giving resource — water should be locally-managed by accountable authorities, like democratically-elected local governments. We oppose needlessly expensive bottled water in favor of affordable, safe tap water service.
Corporate Control of Water Systems
Water corporations, like Veolia or Suez, are seeking to profit off of managing local systems that provide our drinking water and sewer services. Wall Street investors are working with these companies to take advantage of cash-strapped local governments and entice them into selling or leasing off their water assets.
But this is a recipe for disaster. Profits should not be the priority when it comes to providing water services to people, but that’s exactly what happens when private companies take over local systems.
Using Our Tax Dollars to Support Public Water Systems
Rather than letting corporations exploit our water problems for profit, we believe our federal government should provide the support our water systems need so that everyone in the United States can have access to locally-managed, affordable, safe and clean drinking water service.
On a per capita basis, federal funding has declined 82% since its peak. In 1977, the federal government spent $76.27 per person (in 2014 dollars) on our water services, but by 2014 that support had fallen to $13.68 per person.
That’s why we support the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act.
This legislation will provide a long-term, comprehensive solution to bridge the current water-funding gap by taxing offshore corporate profits in the year they are generated. If passed, the WATER Act will secure a significant portion of what we need to protect our drinking water and create up to 945,000 jobs. With many systems advancing in age (some more than 100 years old), we need this funding more than ever. We must renew our commitment to public water, and make sure everyone has access to affordable water service.
We must manage our water as a common resource, not a profit center, and we must provide tap water as public service, not a business.
Take Action: Support the WATER Act and fund affordable, public water for all.
Choice at the supermarket is merely an illusion. Behind the thousands of seemingly unique brands available, only a few multinational corporations control the majority of the food we eat, which is harmful for eaters, farming communities, the environment, and ultimately, our democracy.
To witness the root of the problems with our food system, you need look no further than the business section of the newspaper. Pro-corporate policies and lack of government oversight have led to merger mania in the food and agricultural industry. Monsanto, for example, now owns a staggering number of seed companies that were once its competitors.
It’s no different in the grocery store. Just two firms control more than 60 percent of cracker sales. Four firms control almost 80 percent of cereal sales.
Think you’re a savvy shopper when you choose to buy “healthy” foods such as Kashi or Bear Naked? Kellogg’s owns both.
This lack of competition allows companies to enhance profits by driving down the earnings of farmers and workers in the food system. They control the market price that farmers get for their crops, and dictate the terms of payment to poultry and livestock farmers. Thanks to this unchecked power, multinational corporations like Cargill, Smithfield, Nestlé and PepsiCo essentially shape the food system to maximize their profits alone—at the expense of eaters, farmers and the environment. It means:
More unhealthy processed foods
More factory farms
More loss of family farms and devastation of rural communities
More ecologically damaging farming practices, including pesticide use and polluting factory farms
To test your knowledge of which companies own the majority of the brands in the grocery store, take our Foodopoly quiz.
GMOs: Another Form of Corporate Control
Contrary to what you may hear in media reports, GMOs aren’t about solving nutrition problems or feeding the world. They are about profits, and ultimately, corporate control of our food system.
The majority of corn and soy in the U.S. are GMOs, which neither feed the world nor address particular nutrition problems. But they do provide a cheap food source to fuel factory farms and unhealthy processed foods. They also devastate the environment, leaving vast monocultures in their wake, and leave farmers hooked on dangerous herbicides like Roundup (also created by Monsanto—ensuring even more profits.) Learn more about GMOs.
The Power These Companies Have is Affecting Our Democracy
Corporations have a vested interest in keeping the food system profitable above all, and they are powerful enough to shape policies that keep it that way. When corporate influence shapes policy, their profits come ahead of people’s interests.
We Can’t Shop Our Way Out of The Problem
While supporting the sort of food and farming practices we like with our food dollars is important, personal choices about how we eat won’t fix the food system; the problems are just too big.
In order to create real change, we are building a movement with enough political power to change the policies that put corporations in control of our food.
Read Wenonah Hauter’s Foodopoly – The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming.