MoJo Author Feeds: Anna Lenzer | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/authors/25670 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Monsanto's Roundup Is the Most Used Herbicide in NYC http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/09/monsantos-roundup-most-used-herbicide-nyc <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><span class="inline inline-center"><img width="620" height="465" alt="Roundup is the city's most heavily used liquid herbicide. ZeroOne, Lee J. Haywood, AlishaV, JamesR: Flickr" title="Roundup is the city's most heavily used liquid herbicide. ZeroOne, Lee J. Haywood, AlishaV, JamesR: Flickr" class="image image-preview " src="http://www.motherjones.com/files/images/777.jpg"></span></p> <p>On Monday morning, a <a href="http://occupy-monsanto.com/genetic-crimes-unit/%20" target="_blank">group</a> plans to assemble in New York City's Times Square to protest Monsanto, one of the largest suppliers of herbicides in the world. New York City might seem like an unlikely place to rail against a company that deals mostly with agriculture. But the protesters don't have to look much farther than the surrounding streets and parks for their connection to the company.</p> <p>According to the Department of Health's report on city pesticide use in 2011, Roundup, the weed-killing key to Monsanto's agribusiness empire, is the city's most heavily used liquid herbicide. Roundup is Monsanto's signature blend of glyphosate&mdash;a compound that works by disrupting an enzyme key to plant growth&mdash;and other ingredients to destroy weeds.</p> <p>Monsanto's Roundup brand alone was applied by the city nearly 500 times last year&mdash;about a dozen bathtubs' worth in undiluted form, according to DOH's annual pesticide figures&mdash;mostly via the Roundup Ultra formulation, a more concentrated version of the original. The Parks Department, responsible for most of the city's Roundup use, declined to answer my request for a description of where it uses Roundup and how much, though did confirm its use in iconic locations like Central, Prospect, and Riverside parks. Roundup applications are done "at various locations throughout the city system under careful supervision and in very limited quantities," was the extent of Parks' disclosure on the subject.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2012/09/monsantos-roundup-most-used-herbicide-nyc"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Food and Ag Health Top Stories Mon, 17 Sep 2012 10:00:00 +0000 Anna Lenzer 195646 at http://www.motherjones.com Fiji Water Closes, Fires Workforce… Re-Opens? http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2010/11/fiji-water-closes-fires-workforce-re-opens <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Fiji Water announced today that it will re-open its factory at 8 a.m. Wednesday, less than 48 hours after brusquely dismissing its Fijian workforce and shuttling its employees off its premises via express buses. The company announced that it has agreed to pay Fiji's new water extraction tax of 15 Fiji cents per liter (the equivalent of $.08), which just Monday the company had argued would force it to shut down.</p> <p>On Monday, Fijian press reported that Fiji Water had ordered its entire 400-person workforce dismissed immediately, even though the tax wouldn't take effect until next year. "Workers stood in shocked silence," and "many openly wept" as general manager Paul Davies informed them of the company's decision to send them home, the <em>Fiji Times</em> said. (The company also announced a halt to its various charity projects in Fiji.) Fiji press also reported that Fiji Water's private security firm, Homelink, had secured the Fiji Water facility after the workers went home. Radio New Zealand reported that the union representing the fired workers wrote to the Prime Minister, asking him to reconsider the tax.</p> <p>During a similar, yet less pitched, fight in 2008, Fiji Water likewise shut down temporarily and sent its employees home. Back then the government backed down. This time, officials have made it clear that that wouldn't happen: Before the company changed its mind about the tax, Prime Minister Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama said that Fiji Water should sign off on its land leases as soon as possible so that the government can proceed with finding a new company to manage the water. "The Fiji Government remains firmly committed to both international and local investment in Fiji," Bainimarama added.</p> <p>While the government will still have to rely on Fiji Water's own measurements of the volume of water it extracts, the method will be less complicated than figuring out a percentage of the company's actual international income. As I've reported, Fiji Water has for years operated through a network of international tax havens such as Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, and Switzerland. During a 2008 fight over a water-extraction tax in Fiji, the company submitted diagrams to Fiji courts including complex organizational charts of the company's global corporate structure via a network of global companies&mdash;its Swiss operations have names like "Daisy" and "Jasmine.</p> <p>Fiji Water still has not returned calls for comment.</p></body></html> Environment Tue, 30 Nov 2010 14:49:43 +0000 Anna Lenzer 89216 at http://www.motherjones.com Fiji Water Announces Shutdown. World Freaks? http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2010/11/fiji-water-announces-shutdown-world-freaks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>For background, see my Mother Jones </strong><a target="_blank" href="http://motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/fiji-spin-bottle"><strong>investigative report</strong></a><strong> on Fiji Water.</strong></p> <p>Fiji Water announced today that it will close its operations in Fiji in response to a water extraction tax hike proposed by the Fijian government, to take effect in 2011. The abrupt shutdown comes just three days after the government announced the 2011 budget, which proposes increasing Fiji Water's "extraction tax" to 15 cents a liter up from one-third of a cent. A week ago, Fiji Water Director of External Affairs David Roth was deported from Fiji. (The country's then acting Prime Minister and simultaneously Minister of Defense, National Security and Immigration, Ratu Ganilau, resigned in protest of Roth's deportation.)</p> <p>Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said that Roth had been interfering in the domestic affairs and governance of Fiji, though he would not explain the nature of that interference. "It is unfortunate that David Roth saw it fit to engage in activities outside of his work permit conditions," Bainimarama said. The government later stressed that the issue was between the government and Roth, not Fiji Water.</p> <p>In a statement released today from California, Fiji Water President John Cochran said that the company was hoping to work with the government to resolve the tax dispute, but added that "the country is increasingly unstable, and is becoming a very risky place in which to invest." Cochran also said that the junta's move was "taking our business" and that the tax hike "sends a clear and unmistakeable message to businesses operating in Fiji or looking to invest there." Fiji Water also called the tax "discriminatory" since it only applies to companies bottling more than 3.5 million liters per month&mdash;that is, only Fiji Water.</p> <p>Cochran noted that the company has been paying "millions of dollars in duties and income tax." Fiji Water has, however, benefited from tax-exempt status on its corporate income, granted when the company was founded in 1995 and extended ever since. Court documents submitted by the company in 2008 showed that Fiji Water was owned by an entity in Luxembourg, a tax haven, and recent Swiss financial records also show Fiji Water owners Stewart and Lynda Resnick transferring Fiji Water assets to companies in Switzerland. (The company has also trademarked the word "FIJI" in the Cayman Islands.)</p> <p>In the wake of the closure announcement, Bainimarama issued a stinging statement&mdash;his first public attack on the company&mdash;saying that "as usual Fiji Water has adopted tactics that demonstrate that Fiji Water does not care about Fiji or Fijians."</p> <p>Fiji Water went through similar turmoil in 2008 when the government tried to impose a 20 cent tax hike&mdash;Fiji Water called that tax "draconian" and shut down its operation, but was only out of service for a few days before Fiji's cabinet yanked that idea. But Bainimarama's verbal lashing of the company indicates that the government may not back down so quickly this time.</p> <p>So will celebrities and conference-goers go parched? The Resnicks have one potential backup hydration source in New Zealand, where they own the Spring Fresh brand of bottled water. Spring Fresh's website now uses many of the same selling points as Fiji Water, including a claim that the company&rsquo;s operations are "carbon negative".</p> <p>While Fiji Water fans around the world have already begun tweeting about buying up stocks of Fiji Water ("MY LIFE IS OVER OMG OMG" was one of last night's calmer tweets), the company is hopeful its supply won&rsquo;t be drying up just yet. "Fiji Water remains willing to work through this issue with the Fiji government, as it would be our preference to keep operating in Fiji," read the statement announcing the closure.</p> <p>And if not, the Fiji government blusters, it's not as if no one else would care to sell its water: Bainimarama said if no resolution is forthcoming, he "will call for international tenders from credible and reputable private sector companies to extract this valuable resource."</p></body></html> Environment Mon, 29 Nov 2010 14:29:02 +0000 Anna Lenzer 88906 at http://www.motherjones.com Fiji Water Embroiled in Junta Meltdown http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/11/fiji-water-junta-david-roth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Fiji Water's top official in Fiji, Director of External Affairs David Roth, has left the island nation after the sudden resignation of acting Prime Minister Ratu Ganilau&mdash;who cited a "David Roth issue" as the reason for quitting. Fijian media report that Ganilau resigned Tuesday after refusing to follow orders to deport Roth, who departed Thursday night on a flight to Los Angeles.</p> <p>Ganilau&mdash;who is also Fiji's Minister for Defense, National Security, and Immigration&mdash;shocked the country, which has been under martial law since 2009, by emailing his resignation to Prime Minister Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, who is traveling in China. Fiji Water is a huge economic force on the island, and the company has been criticized for tolerating Bainimarama's military regime (see <a href="http://motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/fiji-spin-bottle" target="_blank">my 2009 Mother Jones investigation</a>).</p> <p>The fight comes at a potentially awkward moment for Fiji Water&mdash;and for the State Department, which just nominated the company for its 2010 Corporate Excellence Award. US relations with Fiji have been cool in recent years, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that Washington will re-engage with Bainimarama's regime by putting a $21 million USAID climate change office in Fiji&mdash;a move some consider an attempt to counter China's rising influence there. "We are going to be working together with Australia to persuade the military government to meet its commitment to bring democracy back to Fiji," Clinton said.&nbsp;</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2010/11/fiji-water-junta-david-roth"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Corporations International Fri, 19 Nov 2010 23:24:23 +0000 Anna Lenzer 88101 at http://www.motherjones.com Fiji Water: Spin the Bottle http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/fiji-spin-bottle <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>THE INTERNET CAF&Eacute;</strong> in the Fijian capital, Suva, was usually open all night long. Dimly lit, with rows of sleek, modern terminals, the place was packed at all hours with teenage boys playing boisterous rounds of video games. But one day soon after I arrived, the staff told me they now had to shut down by 5 p.m. Police orders, they shrugged: The country's <a href="https://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2009/01/freedom-declines-third-consecutive-year-report-says">military junta</a> had declared martial law a few days before, and things were a bit tense.</p> <p>I sat down and sent out a few emails&mdash;filling friends in on my visit to the Fiji Water bottling plant, forwarding a story about foreign journalists being kicked off the island. Then my connection died. "It will just be a few minutes," one of the clerks said.</p> <p>Moments later, a pair of police officers walked in. They headed for a woman at another terminal; I turned to my screen to compose a note about how cops were even showing up in the Internet caf&eacute;s. Then I saw them coming toward me. "We're going to take you in for questioning about the emails you've been writing," they said.</p> <p>What followed, in a windowless room at the main police station, felt like a bad cop movie. "Who are you really?" the bespectacled inspector wearing a khaki uniform and a smug grin asked me over and over, as if my passport, press credentials, and stacks of notes about Fiji Water weren't sufficient clues to my identity. (My <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2007/03/iwaste">iPod</a>, he surmised tensely, was "good for transmitting information.") I asked him to call my editors, even a UN official who could vouch for me. "Shut up!" he snapped. He rifled through my bags, read my notebooks and emails. "I'd hate to see a young lady like you go into a jail full of men," he averred, smiling grimly. "You know what happened to women during the 2000 coup, don't you?"</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2009/09/fiji-spin-bottle"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Environment Top Stories Wed, 12 Aug 2009 08:00:00 +0000 Anna Lenzer 25997 at http://www.motherjones.com