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John Rumpler,
Environment America

Survey: shoppers want food grown in ways that don't pollute the water

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Washington, D.C.– Seventy-nine percent of supermarket shoppers surveyed across the country want food grown in ways that don’t cause water pollution, according to a new Environment America survey.
 
Of more than 1,000 grocery store shoppers surveyed in six states and the District of Columbia, 73 percent said that knowing meat was produced in ways that prevent water pollution would alter their shopping choices.
 
“All too often, pollution from mega-farms fouls our rivers, bays, and streams,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney with Environment America. “Our survey shows consumers want that to change.”
 
From creating massive amounts of animal manure to overusing fertilizers and pesticides, industrial agribusiness is exacting a toll on waterways across the country. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, pollution from these mega-farms contributed to poor water quality in more than 100,000 miles of rivers and streams across the U.S., from the Mississippi River to the Chesapeake Bay.
 
Pollution data from just one such agribusiness, Tyson Foods, Inc. -- one of the world’s largest meat and poultry producers -- shows the magnitude of the problem. A February analysis found the company and its subsidiaries released 104 million pounds of pollution to surface waters from 2010 to 2014, nearly seven times the volume of surface water discharges by Exxon during those years.
 
Environment America is calling on Tyson Foods, Smithfield and other agribusinesses to heed consumer demand, and reduce their water pollution by taking responsibility for their animals’ manure, requiring comprehensive efforts to minimize fertilizer runoff wherever grain is grown for their livestock, and cutting direct discharges of nitrates and other compounds at processing plants. 
 
“The consumers in our survey are telling companies like Tyson to clean up their act,” said Rumpler.