Auckland: Ronald McDonald has locked himself to the gates of McDonalds' Wiri distribution centre in protest at the fast food giants' use of GE fed chicken. After tendering his resignation three weeks ago in Auckland he is now totally "fed-up" with McDonalds lack of action and insisting that McDonalds "Get off their golden arches and go GE free."
Greenpeace activists and Ronald McDonald protest outside the gates of the fast food giant's distribution centre in Wiri, Ronald McDonald is locked by the neck to the gate Auckland. ©Greenpeace/Phil Walter.
Greenpeace activists and Ronald McDonald protest outside the gates of the fast food giant's distribution centre in Wiri, Ronald McDonald is locked by the neck to the gate Auckland. \251Greenpeace/Phil Walter.
At dawn this morning a small flock of Greenpeace activists clad as chickens accompanied Ronald to the large steel 'golden arch' gates of McDonalds Wiri distribution centre, south of Auckland. Whereupon the icon clown locked himself to the gates with a bicycle lock around his neck and a large theatrical padlock and chain. A 'voice bubble' was fixed alongside Ronald with the slogan "McDs chickens are fed up with GE... GO GE Free!"
McDonalds source their chicken from Inghams who import around 50,000 tonnes of GE contaminated soy feed each year (1). Greenpeace is campaigning for McDonalds New Zealand to follow their European counterpart and commit to using non-GE feed in their poultry products. McDonalds say they are considering the change but have failed to make any actual commitment to eliminating GE feed.
Ronald has refused to leave until McDonalds commit to going GE free.
"It's a slightly tongue-in-cheek way of conveying a serious issue," said Greenpeace GE campaigner Steve Abel. "GE crops are bad for the environment. Production of GE soy has lead to increased chemical use, lower yields and contamination of conventional and organic crops," said Abel. "GE soy feed is the biggest source of GE contamination in the New Zealand food chain and people don't want to eat GE fed chicken (2)."
Protests began on 21 April at McDonalds Queen Street branch in Auckland where Ronald staged his resignation. Already over 4,000 postcards have been signed and over 1,300 electronic messages sent to McDonalds by the public urging the burger behemoth to make a change for good by shifting to non-GE fed animal products.
Free images will be available for download from: http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/photos/11May04
(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: http://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 had an active non-GE feed policy since 2001. Tegel import certified non-GE feed from the US.