A prominent corporate watchdog group has released its nominees for worst corporation of the year -- and the majority of those that made the list are based in or have ties to the South.

Corporate Accountability International has nominated eight companies for the ignominious award and invited the public to cast their vote for the three worst, or to write in another candidate. The eight companies on CAI's list of nominees are:

* Archer Daniels Midland of Decatur, Ill. for helping make Indonesia the world's third-worst contributor to global warming through its clearing of endangered forests and wildlife habitat for palm oil plantations.

* Moyock, N.C.-based private security firm Blackwater Worldwide for killing unarmed Iraqi civilians, hiring paramilitaries trained under military dictatorships, and using its close political and financial ties with the Bush administration to secure lucrative contracts.

* Countrywide Financial of Calabasas, Calif. for predatory mortgage lending to elderly and non-English-speaking borrowers and for gouging minority borrowers with discriminatory rates and fees.

* Mattel of El Segundo, Calif. for producing tens of millions of lead-contaminated children's toys and aggressively lobbying against bans on other highly toxic chemicals.

* Switzerland-based Nestlé for labor violations including child exploitation, contributing to the obesity epidemic, and threatening community water supplies with its bottled water brands. The world's largest food company's North American operations include Alcon Laboratories in Fort Worth, Texas.

* Toyota for aggressively lobbying against increased fuel economy standards and state measures to reduce global warming gas emissions while spending millions to advertise its environmental "leadership" and popular Prius hybrids. The Japanese company's North American manufacturing headquarters are located in Erlanger, Ky.

* Retail giant Wal-Mart of Bentonville, Ark. for displacing local businesses, failing to cover employees under the corporation's health plan, and opposing legislation that would increase homeland security.

* Wendy's, a fast-food chain based in Dublin, Ohio for contributing to the growing childhood obesity and diabetes epidemics and refusing to meet nutritional labeling regulations.

Formerly known as Infact, CAI was the force behind the Nestlé infant formula boycott as well as the General Electric nuclear weapons boycott. For more information about Corporate Hall of Shame campaign and to cast your vote, click here.