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On World Water Day, Organic Consumers Assoc. Renews Call for International Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s

FINLAND, Minn. -

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today called for an international boycott of Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s in conjunction with World Water Day, March 22.

“Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, spend millions on marketing to create the false image that the Vermont-based brand is a champion of the environment, when in fact Ben & Jerry’s supports an industrial dairy system that is responsible for a water pollution crisis in Vermont,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director. 

“The theme for this year’s World Water Day is ‘Nature for Water’—exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.’Today we once again call on Ben & Jerry’s to convert its dairy supply chain to 100-percent organic and pasture-raised to help end the dumping of hundreds of thousands of pounds of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers into Vermont’s water supply,” Cummins said.

According to a Regeneration Vermont report, an estimated 40 - 79 percent of the phosphorus and nitrogen pollution in Vermont’s waterways comes from dairy farms, and almost all the pesticide pollution comes from these dairies. The dairy industry is responsible for up to 85 percent of the pollution in the state’s most contaminated waterways, including the Lake Carmi region.

Regeneration Vermont recently reported on newly released data, covering 2014-2016, showing a dramatic increase in the use of pesticides, including glyphosate, 2,4-D and atrazine on Vermont’s dairy farms, linked to the 92,000 acres of GMO corn grown in Vermont, almost exclusively to feed cows on dairy farms. The most heavily used cornfield pesticide in 2016 was glyphosate, with 62,458 pounds used, more than doubling the 27,440 pounds used in 2014.

In July 2017, OCA reported that 10 of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and/or AMPA, glyphosate’s main metabolite. In October, OCA reported that samples of Ben & Jerry’s in four European countries also tested positive for glyphosate residues.

A petition launched by OCA, and another circulated by OCA and seven other organizations have garnered more than 165,000 signatures. Both petitions call on Ben & Jerry’s to go organic. Nearly 160 businesses, farms and NGOs have signed a letter asking Ben & Jerry’s to go organic.

According to the United Nations, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water abstractions worldwide and plays a major role in water pollution, which poses a risk to aquatic ecosystems, human health and productive activities. The UN reports that today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home, affecting their health, education and livelihoods.

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The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots 501(c)3 nonprofit public interest organization, and the only organization in the U.S. focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million consumers of organically and socially responsibly produced food and other products. OCA educates and advocates on behalf of organic consumers, engages consumers in marketplace pressure campaigns, and works to advance sound food and farming policy through grassroots lobbying. We address crucial issues around food safety, industrial agriculture

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