KFC bullies media + Poll shows 80% of KFC customers willing to pay more for non-GE feed
Auckland 15 November 2004: Greenpeace increased pressure on the kiwi icon of fast food chicken today by releasing a poll showing that the majority of KFC customers would prefer to eat Non-GE fed chicken and would be prepared to pay more for it.
The poll was released after two weeks of legal threats by KFC against news website Scoop for running Greenpeace banners linking to a spoof KFC website.
The poll, commissioned by Greenpeace in support of their campaign against GE soy, was conducted by research group Colmar Brunton in early October. It showed that an overwhelming 80% of KFC customers wouldn’t mind paying an extra 2 cents for chicken fed on Non-genetically engineered soy (1). Greenpeace financial analysis shows that it only costs two cents more per chicken to use GE free soy feed (2).
When told of the potential environmental harms from growing GE soy (3), 65% of all chicken eaters and 61% of KFC customers said they would prefer to eat non-GE fed chicken. “It’s a conclusive result that puts paid to KFC assertions that their customers are indifferent to GE in the food chain (4) and also shows that people are willing to pay the tiny extra cost for GE free soy – even if KFC is not,” says Greenpeace campaigner Steve Abel.
KFC’s supplier Inghams, who have a history of feeding their chickens on GE soy from the US, have recently imported non-GE soy from Brazil but neither company is committed to this continuing. Greenpeace opposes GE crops because of the environmental risks and is campaigning for KFC to commit to using only non-GE fed chicken.
Within days of Greenpeace launching a spoof KFC website (www.kfc.org.nz), KFC lawyers made threats against the Scoop news site for posting a Greenpeace advertising banner linking to the Spoof site.
“It is telling that KFC’s lawyers have written to Scoop three times but haven’t contacted Greenpeace directly at all,” says Abel. “Rather than get into a public debate with Greenpeace they choose to try and shut down comment. It’s a classic example of a SLAPP (5),” says Abel.
The spoof site contains alternative definitions of KFC submitted by the public which KFC allege are defamatory. But Greenpeace says the spoof KFC website represents a key form of humorous public comment and honest criticism.
“KFC are spending millions on re-branding themselves as ‘Kiwi For Chicken, ’ but when we suggest KFC means ‘Kiwi For Cheapskates’ and invite other kiwis to voice a point of view they try to shut us down,” says Abel. “In a society that values free speech people should be able to voice those opinions,” says Abel. “It is very concerning that KFC should wish to silence that critical comment and we will defend to the hilt the right of the public to freely express their views on corporations such as KFC.”
The site has attracted hundreds of e-mails from the public and generated over one thousand messages to KFC. Greenpeace will continue to run its campaign across the country which includes colourful and good humoured store protests by chicken suit clad activists.
“KFC should really take heed of the poll results, listen to their customers around the country and act for the good of the environment by committing to non-GE fed chicken,” says Abel.
Images available at; http://www.kfc.org.nz
(1) Poll results; http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/KFCColmarBruntonPoll.pdf
(2) Financial analysis available http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/nonGEFeedPremiums.pdf
(3) GE soy growing has led to more chemical use, lower yields, new weed problems and contamination of conventional crops.
(4) The Timaru Herald reported in August that KFC General Manager Rod de Vries cited “300,000-plus customers” was evidence that KFC’s use of GE chicken was not creating public disquiet.
(5) Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are a common corporate tactic for silencing criticism. The idea is that simply the threat of potentially expensive legal action is enough to shut-up public comment or protest. Very few such legal threats ever make it to court but they often do succeed in silencing people or under-resourced organisations.