Our first investigation, Hell For Leather, probing the hidden ecological and human impact of leather tanning in Bangladesh, was featured by BBC World and a host of alternative news channels and went out to an audience of millions globally – prompting renewed interest in the long debate about the true cost of our love affair with cheap shoes and other goods made from leather.
Follow-ups included the controversial Melting Point, which investigated allegations of espionage, news manipulation, legal threats and violence against climate-change activism in the UK, and the hard-hitting Greed of Feed, which exposed – for the first time – the links between farmed salmon on sale in leading UK supermarkets and a host of shocking ecological and social problems connected to fishmeal production in Peru and Chile (fishmeal is a key ingredient in farmed salmon feed). The film encouraged other media, and campaigners, to examine the previously overlooked fishmeal situation, leading to substantial further coverage.
Other investigations have revealed the growing menace of MRSA connected to antibiotic drugs used in industrial pig rearing in Holland; the human rights abuses linked to soya cultivation in Paraguay; the planned privatisation of Indonesia’s coastline that would see the displacement of thousands of coastal communities to make way for industrial shrimp farms and other export-orientated industries; the unsavoury impacts of food speculation on some of Mexico’s poorest communities, and the brutal reality of US ‘mega dairy’ CAFOs – a farming model about to be exported across the Atlantic to the UK.
Further films include Fracking Hell, which took a unique look at the environmental and social costs of the so-called ‘fracking’ gas extraction technique spreading across the US. The documentary has been repeatedly cited by campaigners battling the arrival of the technology here in the UK, has been broadcast internationally and been watched by more than 450,000 people on Youtube alone.
In Blood Harvest, the EFU exposed Coca Cola’s link to cheap migrant labour in southern Italy’s orange harvest, highlighting squalid conditions and low pay and prompting a public outcry, leading to prime time coverage across Italy (and well beyond), street protests and crisis talks between the Italian government and soft drinks manufacturers. Producers & buyers pledged to examine ways to improve the conditions and pay for workers following our investigation.
The trade in wild-caught baby elephants from Myanmar to Thailand was the focus of one of our most recent films. U.K-based charity Elephant Family attended the 62nd meeting of the CITES Standing Committee in July 2012 and distributed a DVD of the film with their press release. As a result, the issue was raised by various delegations and now, for the first time, it will now be a requirement of governments to take immediate action to stop this trade and to report back on their efforts to do so.