Water Is Not A Human Right: Nestlé

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In the 2005 documentary We Feed the World, then CEO of Nestlé Peter Brabeck-Letmathe made an astonishing claim that there is nothing to worry about with GMO foods, that profits matter above all else, that people should work more, and that human beings do not have a right to water.

“The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution,” he had stated.

Nestle quickly clarified that “Brabeck had argued that everyone should have free access to the water they need for drinking and sanitation. However, he did not believe it is fair that some people use excess amounts of this precious and increasingly scarce resource for non-essential purposes, without bearing a cost for its infrastructure.

In 2013, he told The Guardian, “This human right is the five litres of water we need for our daily hydration and the 25 litres we need for minimum hygiene. This amount of water is the primary responsibility of every government to make available to every citizen of this world, but this amount of water accounts for 1.5% of the total water which is for all human usage.

“Where I have an issue is that the 98.5% of the water we are using, which is for everything else, is not a human right and because we treat it as one, we are using it in an irresponsible manner, although it is the most precious resource we have. Why? Because we don’t want to give any value to this water. And we know very well that if something doesn’t have a value, it’s human behaviour that we use it in an irresponsible manner.”

And in 2015, he told CNBC, “I don’t think it’s a human right to fill up a swimming pool. I don’t think it’s a human right to wash cars. I don’t think it’s a human right to water a golf course.”

Nestlé, the company who conveniently divides the right to water between 1.5% and 98.5% to justify putting a price to it, has done nothing for more than one billion people worldwide who have no access to drinking water. It, instead, has a proven track record of exploiting labor, destroying the environment, engaging in human rights violations, and of course of making big profits. Consider this:

  • Brabeck chairs the 2030 Water Resources Group, a collaborative effort between business (includes PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Company), government and other organizations that looks for ‘practical solutions’ to address water scarcity. PepsiCo, the Coca-Cola Company and Nestle rake in a combined $110 billion a year selling bottled water worldwide – off the myth that tap water is unhealthy.
  • While Starbucks pulled its water bottling operations from California, which has now entered its fourth consecutive year of drought, on ethical grounds, Nestle and other companies like Walmart continue to source water for bottling in California, buying at the same rate as residents and selling at one hundred times the profit.
  • Activists accuse Nestlé of being more interested in lining its own pockets through a back-door privatization of countries’ water supplies, than in saving the planet. A 2011 documentary Bottled Life accused Nestlé of extracting ground water for its bottled brands at the expense of local communities.
  • Nestlé controls one-third of the US market and sells 70 different brand names for which it draws water from 75 springs located all over the country.

When Brabeck and Nestlé promote “water sustainability”, what they are really promoting is the sustainability of Nestlé’s access to and control over water resources. Tell Nestlé to start treating water like a public right, not a source for private profits!

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21 COMMENTS

  1. As a “Midwest, small town” citizen living within miles of a huge Nestle plant and whose’s ONLY source of water is a private well on the property our family hase owned for 220 years…C’mon now, of course Big Business has more “rights” to our water supply than my FAMILY does…Hey Nestle, this American country girl says, “BRING IT!”

  2. Estos hijos de puta, algun dia nos van a conectar una sonde recupera-pedos para fabricar armas bactereologicas. !! Nada los detiene !!

  3. so according to this asshole, water has t be foodstuff, therefore has to have a value.
    he, in a very idiotic way, expresses how industries require more water as an essential resource, than population.

    who is the one finishing up all the water supplies around the globe?
    yeah, i thought so nestle. Not only me, but i think its safe to say that, all the viewers here agree with me, you are a horrible person, not only in beauty standards, the same that you and your rich comrades have imposed to us, but in all ways possible.

    people like you disgust me., i feel pity for your monstrous appetite to fill in a hole, which can not be filled with matter. a lack of love in your pathetic rich life.

  4. I ACTUALLY THINK HE IS RIGHT.. BASIC WATER TO SURVIVE AND BE CLEAN IS A RIGHT..BUT LUXURY USE OF THIS RESOURCE CANNOT POSSIBLY BE ONE!

    • I would say that you’re right except for the fact that it’s corporations like Nestle that waste most of our water. His company come in to a location with a spring…sinks well and then bleeds the aquifer dry..often depleting local wells. The price Nestle pays for the resource they exploit is zero. They have recently started taking water from the Great Lakes which are part of our natural resources. They pay so little for doing this that it makes a lie of what he saying. You quibbling with the semantics in this article really misses the point of what’s behind it. I for one could care less what a thief’s philosophy on what is or is not a right or what the public is entitled to. He lost his credibility a very long time ago at the moment he decided to exploit a national resource to make himself a billionaire.

  5. “Let the punishment fit the crime.”..”Perhaps “WATER BOARDING”…may bring this “Evil Dimwit to his senses.”

  6. The question posed was, should a private corporation be allowed to tap a PUBLIC water source, especially in drought-stricken regions and sell it for PRIVATE PROFIT? The answer was overwhelmingly NO!

  7. This disgrace of the human specie not only works for a company that is member of, but also one of the “Codex Alimentarius” creators.

  8. Without water we WILL die, its called dehydration. There for it is a fundamental right to free water just like Air is free. Try and make us pay and we will ruin your life, without us you have nothing asshole.

  9. I think the commenters have missed or ignored part of his argument:

    “Where I have an issue is that the 98.5% of the water we are using, which is for everything else, is not a human right and because we treat it as one, we are using it in an irresponsible manner, although it is the most precious resource we have. Why? Because we don’t want to give any value to this water. And we know very well that if something doesn’t have a value, it’s human behaviour that we use it in an irresponsible manner.”

    He’s quite right.

  10. not everything is for profit and business…and these businessmen want just their profit….and thats a hell of very bad idea. water and food and all necessary natural things are for each and every people on this earth…there should be no any misuse or marketisation of these resources. They doesn’t have any price.

  11. Well, if people had refused to buy bottled water in the 80’s the powers that be may not have such an easy time controlling who gets clean water. Spend wisely! Do your homework!

  12. I fail to see why people buy bottled water when it’s free from the tap. They’re only playing into the hands of the corporate profit makers

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