Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

To appease Tesco, WWF chose not to release a report revealing pollution in the River Wye.
Environment World News

To appease Tesco, WWF chose not to release a report revealing pollution in the River Wye.

The organization WWF-UK chose not to release a report that highlights the damaging effects of intensive chicken farming on the River Wye, as revealed by the Observer.

From 2018 onward, the charitable organization has acquired over £6m in contributions from the retail company Tesco, which has been criticized by activists for its role in the degradation of the Wye river. This is due to the presence of numerous concentrated poultry farms within the river’s catchment region that are linked to Tesco’s supply chain.

The charity was due to publish a report on fixing the food system, which included the impact of intensive chicken farming on the river. One source claimed the proposed 2022 report was pulled after concerns were raised about the potential fallout.

According to WWF, the report released this weekend did not meet their high standards and the decision to not endorse it was not influenced by any partnerships.

According to an informed individual, the choice to shelve the report was highly misguided. The team was hesitant to disrupt the status quo and their mindset was focused on pursuing a partnership rather than the report’s purpose.

WWF collaborated with Tesco from 2018 until 2023 to address the environmental effects of the food industry. Tesco supplied financial support ranging from £500,000 to £2 million annually throughout the partnership.

In the summer of 2022, the WWF planned to release a report titled “Feeling the Bite” addressing the impact of global food production on wildlife and ecology. The report, concerned about the effects on a million species, aims to propose solutions for fixing the food system.

The impactful report stated that in both the UK and globally, the way we consume food is contributing to a destructive food production system that is harming the planet. It cautioned that the current state of the food system is causing an unsustainable burden on nature.

In addition to shedding light on the danger faced by Asian elephants and the maned wolf in South America, the report also examined the struggle of the River Wye as a specific example.

A raw Tesco chicken on a wooden chopping boardView image in fullscreen

The alert explained that the rise in phosphorus-heavy waste from chicken farms was resulting in harmful growth of algae, which damages plants and fish and deprives birds like kingfishers and dippers of their food source.

The publication date for the report was originally scheduled for 2022. However, according to the source, there was a suggestion to postpone the publication and remove the Wye case study due to worries that environmental advocates would draw attention to WWF’s collaboration with Tesco.

The report was ultimately put on hold after a decision was made. According to the source, when the Wye case study was excluded, it cast doubt on the overall effectiveness of the report.

Tesco stated that it had no part in the report and was not involved in the decision to not publish it.

Dave Lewis, the ex-CEO of Tesco, currently serves as the chairman of the board of trustees for WWF. The organization clarified that he had no participation in the project or its decision-making process.

Last May, Natural England declared that the condition of the River Wye had been reduced to “unfavourable – declining”.

Tesco has been criticized for its involvement in upholding an unsustainable supply chain in the Wye catchment area.

Charles Watson, the creator and leader of River Action, a non-profit organization focused on educating about river contamination, stated that the surge in poultry farming in the Wye catchment region was primarily driven by Tesco’s demand, along with other supermarket chains. He remarked, “The Wye is practically covered in Tesco’s branding.”

In the past few years, WWF has formed several corporate partnerships, such as with Aviva, HSBC, and Reckitt, a consumer goods company. The charity received a total of £16.7m in corporate donations and income during the financial year ending on June 30, 2023, out of a total income of £94m.

According to a representative from WWF, our organization follows a science-based approach and after studying the report drafts, we determined that it did not meet our high standards. The choice to not move forward with this report was not influenced by any specific case study or our partnerships with collaborators.

“We are greatly distressed by the severe consequences of pollution on the rivers of the UK, specifically the Wye, and have resorted to legal action against the government for its inaction towards addressing river pollution. We persist in our efforts to push for measures to mitigate the effects of the food system on the environment, both domestically and internationally.”

A representative from Tesco stated that this report was not included in our collaboration with WWF and we were not consulted in its creation or the decision to publish it. Our partnership with WWF focuses on addressing major environmental concerns within our food system, such as safeguarding water quality and preserving biodiversity in our supply chains.

“We are dedicated to fulfilling our responsibility in preserving the River Wye, in collaboration with other players in the food industry. Since 2019, we have collaborated closely with community stakeholders to address water contamination in the region.”

We are also allocating funds for several water catchment projects over the course of multiple years.

Source: theguardian.com