Auckland, Tuesday 11 May 2004: Ronald McDonald has been arrested today after locking himself to the gates of McDonalds' South Auckland distribution centre in Golden Arches Place, Wiri. Greenpeace Activist Gareth Hughes from Wellington, in full Ronald regalia, was led away and charged with disorderly conduct at the Papakura Police station late this morning.
Ronald was protesting at McDonalds' use of chicken fed on genetically engineered (GE) soy. After tendering his resignation three weeks ago in Auckland Ronald stated he was now "totally fed-up with McDonalds lack of action," and insisted that McDonalds "Get off their golden arches and go GE free."
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. 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!"
Ronald said he would not leave until McDonalds commit to going GE free. Police called the fire service who severed the locking device around Ronald's neck before he was arrested and led away. A number of McDonalds trucks and cars had been unable to enter or depart the centre for two and a half hours during the protest.
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 McDonalds Europe 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.
"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.
For further information please contact:
Greenpeace Campaigner; Steve Abel, 021 565 175
Greenpeace Communications Officer; Suzette Jackson, 021 577 556
To download free images: www.greenpeace.org.nz/photos/11may04
Fotopress images: www.fotopress.co.nz
(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 had an active non-GE feed policy since 2001. Tegel import certified non-GE feed from the US.
GREENPEACE AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND http://www.greenpeace.org.nz