>Consumers with a drinking problem???

>Take a look at this fascinating article about America’s truly absurd (and growing) addiction to bottled water. As the article notes, in 1976, the average American drank 1.6 gallons of bottled water a year, according to Beverage Marketing Corp. Last year, we each drank 28.3 gallons of bottled water–18 half-liter bottles a month. We drink more bottled water than milk, or coffee, or beer. Only carbonated soft drinks are more popular than bottled water, at 52.9 gallons annually.

What is truly remarkable, however, as author Charles Fishman notes, is that tap water in the United States, with rare exceptions, is impressively safe. It is monitored constantly, and the test results made public. Mineral water has a long association with medicinal benefits–and it can provide minerals that people need–but there are no scientific studies establishing that routinely consuming mineral water improves your health. The FDA, in fact, forbids mineral waters in the United States from making any health claims.

Meanwhile, one out of six people in the world has no dependable, safe drinking water. The global economy has contrived to deny the most fundamental element of life to 1 billion people, while delivering to us an array of water “varieties” from around the globe, not one of which we actually need.

It’s important reading for anyone who cares about smart consumerism or our global economy. You can read it here.

>A Real Seed Project

>There are some interesting new postings on the FLA web site related to the FLA’s Syngenta project. As FLA groupies know, that project relates to the FLA’s unique application of its methodologies used in the apparel industry to agriculture. Several years ago the FLA was asked to address the problem of the use of child labor in the Indian seed supply chain. The FLA commissioned two independent studies to assess the risks and then, based on the result of these studies , developed a new approach to internal and external monitoring of labor standards. In addition to the child labor issue, the studies also revealed problems with wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.

The new postings including the summary report of the multi-stakeholder forum held late last year in Hyderabad, India dedicated to identify and develop a consensus around priority issues for monitoring in the vegetable seed production sector. Participants identified code awareness, health and safety, wages and benefits and child labor as the four priority issues to address in the agricultural sector.

Also recently posted is the Syngenta Task and risk mapping study. The FLA commissioned Dr. Davuluri Venkateshwarlu to study the tasks and labor compliance risks in the production of Syngenta Seeds’ vegetable seeds in India. Dr. Venkateshwarlu highlighted four high-risk tasks in hybrid vegetable seed production: (1) pesticide application; (2) hybridization; (3) harvesting; and (4) seed extraction. These tasks pose compliance risks related to health and safety, child labor, bonded or forced labor and excessive hours of work.

To read these reports and also a longer description of the Syngenta Project, click here.

>Stakeholders Meeting in the Dominican Republic

>Last month, the FLA held a Stakeholders Forum in the Dominican Republic entitled “After the MFA: Challenges for Promoting and Protecting Workers Rights in a Changing Market Environment.” The broad cross section of individuals who participated helped make this a fascinating and rewarding event. In addition to the general interchange of ideas, the group heard the presentation of a report commissioned by the FLA on the specific implications of these changes for the Dominican Republic. Among those in the audience was DR Vice President Alburquerque. The report, a summary of the meeting, and other related documents are now posted on the FLA web site, here. It’s worth reading.