Ronald McDonald quits over GE chicken feed
Images: Ronald McDonald Quits Over GE Chicken
Auckland, 21 April, 2004:
Ronald McDonald entered the Queen Street branch of McDonalds today and handed in his resignation. The dramatic action was taken by the infamous fast food clown in protest at McDonalds use of chicken fed on genetically engineered (GE) soy meal.
"I'm so upset to learn that stores named after me are using GE fed chicken," said Ronald. The icon red and yellow character was encouraging McDonalds customers at the Queen Street store to send messages demanding that the fast food chain stop using GE chicken feed and commit to a non-GE poultry, egg and ingredient supply.
Greenpeace spokesperson Steve Abel commended Ronald's protest actions. "It seems like a bit of fun but it's actually a serious issue," said Abel. Imported GE soy feed is the biggest source of GE contamination in the New Zealand food chain. McDonalds chicken is supplied by Australian poultry giant Inghams who bring in around 50,000 tonnes of GE contaminated soy annually (1).
Mr McDonald was accompanied by a flock of indignant chickens wearing bibs with the message "Say NO to McGE - GE fed chicken." The poultry protesters handed out mock 'happy meal' packs with crayons, stickers and colour-in postcards for customers to send to the fast food giant demanding they make the shift to non-GE feed.
"McDonalds and Inghams should stop using GE ingredients and feed out of a commitment to customer preference (2), concerns about potential health impacts and for the good of the environment," said Abel. "GE soy production in the US and Argentina has led to increased chemical use, lower yields, herbicide resistant weeds and contamination of conventional crops." McDonalds already has a Europe wide policy of excluding GE in food and poultry feed.
The Greenpeace New Zealand activity is part of a global stepping-up of the international environmental group's campaign against the spread of GE crops, which includes ongoing mobilisation of consumers against GE food. Soy is the most widely grown GE crop. Over 80% of GE crops are used for animal feed and nearly half the world's soy is now genetically engineered.
"There is clearly an urgent need to stop GE soy," said Steve Abel. "At every opportunity, Greenpeace will confront GE soy, be it along export routes or in the food chain. In Brazil, we are at the forefront of the battle against GE soy, and in China we are working to protect the homeland of soy from genetic contamination."
The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, currently in Australia, is due to arrive in New Zealand on May 12 for the New Zealand leg of its GE Free trans-Tasman tour.
Images will be free for download as they become available at: http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/photos/21April04/
(1) Roundup Ready soy DNA content, in relation to the total soy DNA of this [Inghams] sample, is 85% (+/-10%), AgriQuality, 10 June 2003. Full results can be viewed at: www.greenpeace.org.nz/campaigns/ge (2) Independent research done for Tegel found that 75% of consumers wanted chickens that had not been fed GE soy meal, NZ Herald, 29 August 2001. Tegel, New Zealand's largest poultry company, have an active non-GE feed policy and import certified non-GE feed from the US.
Please Note: Ingham claim that their next shipment of soy meal into New Zealand, due in June, is non-GE soy from Brazil. However, according to Ingham, the shipment is not certified as non-GE so it could be significantly GE contaminated. Inghams also have no commitment to sourcing non-GE soy now or into the future. This unverified shipment cannot legitimately be used to claim a non-GE policy by Inghams or McDonalds.