Victory in Brooklyn Over Walmart
Good news from the fight against the aggressive corporate consolidation of our nation’s food system: in America’s largest city, Walmart has been beaten back! Last week, the oppressive retail giant and the country’s second-largest company (trailing only the fossil fuel mega-giant Exxon Mobil) announced that it was giving up on its multi-year effort to build its first New York City store, in Brooklyn. Along with the many labor, community, social justice and environmental organizations aligned in the fight against Walmart, consumer and food safety groups like ours are declaring victory in this battle for New York City. But the struggle continues.
For years now, Food & Water Watch has been examining the anti-competitive, anti-sustainability and anti-health impact Walmart exerts on communities across the nation. Despite its drumbeat of claims to the contrary, our analysis has repeatedly shown that Walmart isn’t a good neighbor to anyone.
In 2010 we exposed large holes in various depictions of Walmart as a bastion of environmental sustainability, pointing to its alliances with decidedly sub-par environmental certification and ratings systems. Also, we challenged its claims of moving toward local-sourcing sustainability.
More recently, we have taken on Walmart’s inability to assure customers that they wouldn’t be selling genetically engineered (GE) sweet corn. We even shut down their corporate phone lines with our national call-in day to urge them not to stock this untested, unlabeled and potentially unsafe product in their stores, which they refused to do—so consumers who buy sweet corn at Walmart may be eating a genetically engineered product without even knowing it. A recent study released today in France showed that rats fed on Monsanto’s GE corn or exposed to Roundup weedkiller developed tumors and multiple organ damage.
All of this analysis culminated with our recent report detailing Walmart’s damaging effect on local and national food systems and its negative impact on communities large and small. This report is coupled with a summary of Walmart’s failure to deliver on its claims of sustainability.
As for Walmart’s aggressive pursuit of an entre into New York City, the fight continues. Despite its defeat in Brooklyn and overwhelming resistance to its similar proposal for Queens, the bottomless pockets of the world’s most profitable retailer will remain a potent foe. But with this recent victory for the movement to contain Walmart, our determination will only grow.