Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Citrus, the U.S.’s largest citrus grower and the company behind Halos® mandarins, are using leftover wastewater from oil corporations to irrigate their citrus—while also using pink ribbons to sell them.
The use of oil wastewater for food irrigation is expanding rapidly in California, which is the U.S.’s third largest oil-extracting state and which also produces the bulk of the nation’s fruits and veggies.
As this type of irrigation is set to expand, we believe this is an urgent public health issue because of the potentially hazardous chemicals associated with all oil extraction processes. Current tests of oil wastewater used for food irrigation do not look for all of the hundreds of chemicals associated with the oil extraction process. But at least one test of oil wastewater used for food irrigation found that it contained the chemical benzene, a known human carcinogen linked to breast cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Maximum Contaminant Level Goal for benzene in drinking water is zero, which means “there is no dose below which the chemical is considered safe.”
Using oil wastewater to irrigate our food has not been proven safe—neither for the health of the public nor for the health of farm workers, who are exposed firsthand to these chemicals. In fact, an expert panel is currently reviewing the use of oil wastewater for food irrigation for associated health risks—yet California’s top officials are still permitting companies like Bee Sweet and Wonderful to use it!
Companies use pink ribbons to gain customer loyalty and increase their sales. After all, pink ribbons are profitable. But companies shouldn’t put their profits before our health.
Bee Sweet Citrus puts a pink ribbon on their Sweetheart Mandarin labels “to achieve prevention, and find a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime.” And Wonderful Citrus participates in an in-store cause-marketing promotion called Pink Ribbon Produce, aimed at “uniting the produce industry in the fight for breast cancer.”
Both of these companies claim to care about women with breast cancer and are using pink ribbons to sell their products—all while failing to protect farm workers and the public from the potential health risks of using oil wastewater to irrigate their citrus. We call this pinkwashing.
Recently, we delivered your signatures to California Governor Jerry Brown urging him to end the use of oil wastewater for food irrigation. To date, he has failed to do so. In the absence of strong government action, we’re calling on Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Citrus to stop using oil wastewater to irrigate their crops while using pink ribbons to sell citrus—a practice we call pinkwashing.
Tell Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Citrus to stop pinkwashing and stop watering our food with oil wastewater.
Join us in telling these citrus companies to stand up for women affected by breast cancer. Tell them to stop irrigating their citrus with oil wastewater and use their power to ensure that oil wastewater is not used to irrigate any of our food.
Now that would really be sweet and wonderful!
For more information, read our campaign brief by clicking below, or download the PDF by clicking here.