Council of Canadians announces Economic Boycott of Nestlé


CLICK HERE to sign Council of Canadians pledge to not buy bottled water or Nestle products. You’ll feel better and so will I.

[Note: this is not the first Nestlé boycott. As a sociologist friend pointed out – this company is the textbook example of unethical practices with the Nestle’s baby formula program a recipe for what not to do. They built up opposition to breast feeding and created a demand for powdered formula in areas of the world where clean water is unavailable – infants died as a result.]

This is the Council of Canadians pledge text for this new campaign against bottled water:

In the middle of a severe drought in southern Ontario, bottled water giant Nestlé continues to extract over four million litres of groundwater every day from an aquifer near Guelph. Nestlé pays less than $15 per day for this precious resource and then ships it out of the community in hundreds of millions of single use plastic bottles for sale all over North America – at an astronomical mark up.

The aquifer that supplies the main Nestlé production well has dropped about 1.5 metres from 2011 to 2015 while Nestlé’s water taking increased 33 % over the same period.

And Nestlé just bought up another well in nearby Middlebrook – despite the local municipality’s attempt to purchase it to safeguard their municipal water supply. Nestlé has been privatizing groundwater all over the world, stirring up opposition from communities trying to protect their water.

Groundwater resources will not be sufficient for our future needs due to drought, climate change and over-extraction. Wasting our limited groundwater on frivolous and consumptive uses such as bottled water is madness. We must not allow groundwater reserves to be depleted for corporate profit.

It is time to stop Nestlé from profiting from water.


Nestlé outbids small Ontario municipality to buy well for bottled water

A small but fast growing Ontario community looking for a safe drinking water supply has been outbid in its attempt to buy a well by multinational giant Nestlé, which acquired the site to ensure “future business growth.”

Nestlé, which can already take up to 3.6 million litres of water a day for bottling at its site in nearby Aberfoyle, Ont., bought the well from Middlebrook Water Company last month after having made a conditional offer in 2015.

A spokesman for Nestlé said the company had “no idea” the other bidder for the five-hectare site was the Township of Centre Wellington, but it waived all conditions and matched the competing offer so it could complete the purchase.

Related: Water fight: Nestlé’s ambitions meet resistance in small-town Ontario

Nestlé said the Middlebrook site will be a “supplemental well for future business growth” and a backup for its plant in Aberfoyle.

Township Mayor Kelly Linton said Nestle dropped its conditions, including a pump test to determine if the well met its quality and quantity requirements, after it learned of the competing bid. Wellington wanted to purchase the well to keep its water supply “safe from commercial water taking” long into the future, added Linton.

“When water taking is solely within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the only role we really have as a municipality is to comment to the ministry, and it issues all the permits,” he said. “So purchasing the well would automatically give us control, and that’s what we were looking for, control of our water source and not just the ability to comment.”

Nestle Water Privatization Continues

Nestle seeks 10-year water-taking permit in Aberfoyle

CTV reports, “Within the next few months, Nestle’s permit to take water from the Aberfoyle area will expire. The bottled water giant is seeking a 10-year renewal of that permit, which currently allows them to take about 2,500 litres of water per minute from the Grand River watershed.”

The article adds, “Nestle filed its application to renew its water-taking permit earlier this week.”

Nestle’s current water taking permit in Aberfoyle is set to expire July 31, 2016.

The Council of Canadians has previously raised concerns about Nestle’s water-taking business in Aberfoyle. In 2008, the Council of Canadians Guelph chapter and Wellington Water Watchers campaigned against Nestle and succeeded in at least reducing Nestle’s requested permit (from 5 years to 2 years) and requiring the company to do extensive monitoring on the impact of their water takings. In 2013, the two groups, with legal representation from Ecojustice, successfully fought against an Ontario Ministry of Environment decision to remove conditions that made it mandatory for Nestle to reduce its water takings in Hillsburgh during droughts.

The Council of Canadians is also opposed to Nestle securing a water-testing permit in Elora, Ontario and and its ongoing operations in Hope, British Columbia.

CBC has reported, “Residents of a southern Ontario town are worried Nestlé Water Canada’s plan to pump up to 1.6 million litres of water per day from a nearby aquifer could leave them high and dry. Nestlé Waters Canada, a subsidiary of the transnational Nestlé company, has conditionally bought an existing well near Elora, Ont. — a small town on the Grand River located about 115 kilometres west of Toronto — that taps into a major aquifer, or underground layer of water. The company hopes to eventually pump water from the aquifer and sell it in the Canadian market, where some 2.4 billion litres of bottled water are sold each year, often at prices similar to gasoline.”

A decision on that permit is expected at any time now.

And Vancouver-based Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui has written, “Nestlé also withdraws 265 million litres every year in Hope. The BC government kicked off a firestorm of opposition when it released new water rates that would have Nestlé paying only $2.25 per million litres starting in January 2016 when the new Water Sustainability Act comes into force.”

The Council of Canadians defends the United Nations-recognized human right to water and opposes the commodification of water, including the sale of bottled water.

Wellington Water Watchers is a key ally in this fight in Ontario. They are dedicated to the protection, restoration and conservation of drinking water in Guelph and Wellington County. To learn more about them, please click here.

Bottled Life – Nestlé’s Business with Water – a 2011 documentary

Bottled Life

Nestlé’s Business with Water

Cinema-Documentary, CH/DE, 90 Min., HD

Can you imagine someone turning ordinary water into a billion dollar business? The secret key to the blue gold lies in the hand of Swiss transnational nutrition company Nestlé. Nestlé is generating 10 billion dollars a year with bottled water. A Zurich-based journalist starts investigating into his country’s most powerful corporation. He wants to find out what is behind Nestlé’s fastest growing line of business. The journey leads him from Switzerland to the USA and Pakistan. He gets involved in a harsh fight between citizens trying to protect their local sources and an international giant.

Brabeck/Nestle/Water Teach In Event presenter’s notes – University of Alberta, Feb 29, 2012


The Teach-In was held the day before the honorary degree ceremony.

This attached pdf file includes presenter’s notes from:

Sara Dorow (Associate Professor, Sociology, UofA)

Sourayan Mookerjee (Associate Professor, Sociology, UofA)

John Parkins (Associate Professor, Rural Economics and Sociology, UofA)

David Kahane (Political Science, UofA)

Dr. Amy Kaler (Sociology) This is the letter I wrote to Indira Samarasekera and to Linda Hughes, Chancellor of the University, on February 7, the date the honorary degree was announced

Dear Drs Hughes and Samarasekera,
I received an announcement in my University of Alberta email this morning informing me that Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chair of the Nestle Group, will be receiving an honorary degree from the University on the the first of March.  According to the email, this degree is intended to honor individuals who have made major contributions to “the preservation, distribution and management of one of humanity’s most vital resources: water”.
I was surprised to see Mr Brabeck-Letmathe’s name among the honorees. While I have no doubt he is an effective businessperson, his company is not known for its stewardship of water. As I’m sure you know, Nestle has been embroiled for decades in controversies surrounding the promotion of breastmilk substitutes to poor women in the global south. The key question here was whether Nestle was adequately mindful that women without secure access to clean water would use dirty water to dilute the milk-substitute concentrate, resulting in enormously increased risk of diarrhoeal diseases to their babies; and whether Nestle as a company was prioritizing the sale of milk substitute and its attendant risk over maternal and child health. A worldwide boycott of Nestle took place between 1977 and 1984, called off when the company agreed to abide by the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. However, since 1984 there have been repeated allegations that the company has backslid, and evidence is continually surfacing that Nestle has not been maintaining a firewall between dirty water and babies, despite reassuring statements from its leadership.

Dr. Amy Kaler (Sociology & School of Public Health)

February 9, 2012

Dear Drs Hughes and Samarasekera,

I’m writing to follow up the message below, which I sent on Tuesday. The issues raised have generated quite a lot of interest and email traffic on campus, particularly among the faculty members to whom this message is cc’ed. I understand that the question of this honorary degree has also “gone viral”, such that many members of the university community are encountering it in different media.

Unfortunately, to my knowledge there has been no response from your offices, either in the form of a simple acknowledgment of the concerns raised or in the more robust form of a substantial reply to my request for more information about this decision. I would appreciate receiving a response of either sort, and I know my appreciation would be shared by other who are perturbed by the apparent implications of this award.  Continue reading