McGE Campaign Escalates
The Greenpeace campaign against McDonalds use of chickens fed on genetically engineered (GE) soy meal will escalate today with in-store protests being held in three major centres.
"We are now telling the whole country of McDonalds GE fed chicken with the launch of store protests in Wellington and Christchurch as well as Auckland," said Greenpeace GE campaigner Steve Abel. "The response so far has been fantastic with public keen to tell McDonalds they don't want GE fed chicken," said Abel.
The protests started last Wednesday at the Queen Street branch in Auckland where a parody Ronald McDonald staged his resignation accompanied by a dozen activists in chicken costumes. Already over 1,500 postcards have been sent by McDonalds customers and the public urging the fast food giant to make the shift to non-GE fed animal products in line with their European stores. McDonalds New Zealand has made no public response.
Each store is to be besieged at lunchtime today by a flock of indignant chickens wearing bibs with the message "Say NO to McGE - GE fed chicken." The poultry protesters will hand 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.
"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). "McDonalds and Inghams should stop using GE out of a commitment to customer preference (2) and for the good of the environment," said Abel.
"McDonalds already has a Europe wide policy of excluding GE in food and poultry feed, it is clearly an obtainable goal for McDonalds in New Zealand." 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.
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 (3), which includes ongoing mobilisation of consumers against GE food.
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.
(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. (3) Soy is the most widely grown GE crop. Over 80% of GE crops are used for animal feed and half the world's soy is now genetically engineered.
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.