McDonalds muddies facts on GE fed chicken
Auckland, 29 April 2004: Greenpeace criticised McDonalds muddying of the fact they use GE fed chicken. "McDonalds use GE fed chicken - no bones about it," Said Greenpeace Campaigner Steve Abel.
McDonalds reported claim that Inghams feed their chickens GE soy meal from "time to time" (1) is a serious understatement. "Inghams feed their chickens GE contaminated soy meal all the time and those are the same chickens that go into McDonalds products," said Abel. "McDonalds are deceiving the public in claiming they are GE free when in fact they source their chicken from the biggest GE importer in the country (Inghams), we are calling them to public account for that. McDonalds can't claim environmental responsibility while backing GE crops in this way," said Abel
One of the key issues with GE crops is the lack of scientific knowledge around its long-term effects. However Greenpeace has provided clear information to McDonalds on the negative environmental effects of GE crops such as increased chemical use, lower yields, weed problems and contamination of conventional and organic crops, and of course there is a broad public opposition to eating GE foods (2). McDonalds Europe has stopped using GE fed chicken for these reasons.
"McDonalds New Zealand need to stop spending so much money telling everyone how great and responsible they are and spend a little more on sourcing non-GE soy meal, and do something genuinely positive for the environment," said Abel.
"Of course we [Greenpeace] want Inghams to commit to non-GE feed as well but McDonalds are currently the biggest commercial user of Inghams chicken and they are a crucial cog in Inghams moving away from GE soy feed," said Abel. "I fear the real reason McDonalds won't commit is because of the nominal extra cost of certified non-GE soy (3)."
"Greenpeace informed McDonalds in July 2003 of test results showing an 85% GE contamination in Inghams soy meal (4)," said Abel, "McDonalds have pleaded a kind of helplessness in the matter which is ridiculous given who they are," said Abel. "If McDonalds are serious about being non-GE they need to demand non-GE fed chicken from their supplier instead of making excuses," concluded Abel.
(1) NZPA, 29 April 2004 (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) Certified non-GE soy costs between US$10 - 30 per tonne more than GE contaminated. Industry estimates this equates to approximately one cent extra per chicken. (4) 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
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.