Sunday, June 3rd, 2007: Protest at Dow-sponsored “Blue Planet Run”

On June 3rd, the non-profit organization “Blue Planet Run” held an event in Boston Common as the participating long-distance runners were arriving in Boston. The blue planet run goes across 16 countries and covers 15200 miles in 95 days. At each stop, the organization holds a media event to promote their message. However, some might wonder what exactly this message is. According to the organization, the event promotes safe drinking water across the globe. However, many activists feel that the honesty of their message is encumbered by the fact that the main sponsor of the run is Dow Chemical, which products and factories are a major source of water contamination across the world.

Boston Common, June 3rd, 2007

An interview with AID Boston volunteer Sudarshan Vasudevan about the “Blue Planet Run” (WMBR MIT Campus Radio, 06/13/07) can be accessed (the entire program) at WMBR’s archive at: http://www.wmbr.org/www/sched-wed under the program titled “What’s Left”.

On June 3rd, the non-profit organization “Blue Planet Run” held an event in Boston Common as the participating long-distance runners were arriving in Boston. The blue planet run goes across 16 countries and covers 15200 miles in 95 days. At each stop, the organization holds a media event to promote their message. However, some might wonder what exactly this message is. According to the organization, the event promotes safe drinking water across the globe. However, many activists feel that the integrity of their message is encumbered by the fact that the main sponsor of the run is Dow Chemical, which products and factories are a major source of water contamination across the world.

Dow Chemical is spending $10 million to sponsor the run, while at the same time it is avoiding to pay for the clean-up of the water sources it has contaminated.

Dow’s involvement in water contamination:

  • Bhopal India
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Mississippi River
  • Brazos River, Texas
  • Myrtle Grove, Louisiana Acquifer
  • Vietnam
  • Lake Huron & Saginaw Bay, MI
  • Tittabawassee & Saginaw River, MI
  • 3,500 waterways in the United States

Read more about Dow Chemical’s history here.

What is behind Dow’s new PR campaign?

The sponsorship of the Blue Planet run is part of Dow’s new PR offensive, which promotes the company’s commitment to social responsibility and environmental sustainability. However, how are we to interpret this campaign if more money is spent on advertising their commitment than on cleaning up the sites they’ve poisoned?
In 2006, Andrew Liveris, chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company, spoke at the UN to describe Dow’s commitment to sustainable water solutions and announced their partnership the Blue Planet Run Foundation. Read more about Dow’s announcement here.
One could say that all this sounds very promising, however, here a few issues to investigate for those who are sceptical about the corporate good heart:

nterestingly, one of the intial sponsors of the BluePlanetRun was Coca Cola (read more here) – another company with a fantastic record in terms of ensuring safe drinking water: Coca Cola has been widely criticized for causing water shortages in many Indian communties located near the company’s bottling plants. Read more about Coca-Cola here.

Dow Chemical makes money through selling water purification technologies, materials for water piping etc.. So could they possibly have any other interests in promoting their new interest in clean water solutions?

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