McDonalds seek non-GE feed
Auckland, 19 May, 2004:
Greenpeace New Zealand has today announced that it will end its public campaign against McDonalds New Zealand following a statement from the fast food giant that they are seeking a non-GE feed supply for their chicken products (1).
Following talks with McDonalds yesterday Greenpeace GE Campaigner Steve Abel stated that; “McDonalds has given us a position statement consistent with the stance the company has taken in Europe which urges its chicken suppliers to source non genetically engineered (GE) soy feed, and we understand that is due to happen for the immediate future.”
“Inghams have stated to McDonalds that their next two shipments of soy meal into New Zealand are to be sourced from a non-GE contaminated region of Brazil. We will be keeping a close eye on these shipments and seeking independent testing of the soy to demonstrate its non-GE purity,” said Abel. “And we will continue to campaign for an ongoing commitment from Inghams to source non-GE feed.”
For the past four weeks Greenpeace has undertaken a public campaign which targeted McDonalds stores nationwide with chicken suited activists and a Ronald McDonald look alike who staged a mock resignation, and was later arrested for blockading the ‘golden arch’ gates of McDonalds Wiri Distribution Centre. The campaign urged McDonalds to take a position on GE feed.
“While the campaign has been humorous and good natured the issue itself is a serious environmental one,” says Abel. “GE crops have led to an increase in herbicide use, lower yields, weed problems and contamination of conventional and organic crops.”
McDonalds have already been proactive in sourcing non-GE derived ingredients for their products over the last three years. “We commend McDonald’s for its efforts to date in ensuring the food ingredients it serves are non-GE derived. And now, for McDonalds to request that its chicken supplier seek a non-GE feed supply is more good news for both the environment and for the public’s GE free food preference. McDonalds has listened and responded positively to Greenpeace and the public,” said Abel.
Inghams however are not prepared to make a public statement and will continue to import GE contaminated soy to Australia due to claimed difficulties with the Brazilian port where the non- GE soy is loaded (2). “Inghams won’t commit to sourcing non- GE soy for the longer term but they have told McDonalds that their next two shipments to New Zealand are non-GE – which is a good start. However we will certainly keep up the pressure for Inghams to commit to an ongoing and trans-Tasman non-GE soy supply,” said Abel.
New Zealand’s largest poultry producer, Tegel, has been sourcing a high standard Identity Preserved (IP) supply of non- GE soy from the US since 2001. This comes at a premium of up to US$30 dollars per tonne. Inghams are apparently not prepared to pay this premium for the non-GE US supply so have sought less costly, non-GE Brazilian soy (3).
Free Images of Ronald’s resignation: http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/photos/21April04/
“McDonalds is aware of concerns over the use of GM in
animal feed and has therefore requested its suppliers to identify sources of non-GM soya in animal feed. This has been achieved by its chicken suppliers.” – McDonalds New Zealand, 19 May 2004.
2. According to Inghams the Sao Francisco Port is insufficiently deep to sustain the draft on a ship with a full load of soy. However, Greenpeacepeople in Brazil have seen full loads of soy departing this port. Inghams will load approximately 33,000 tonnes of soy from the non- GE Matto Grosso region. Then a further 12,000 will be loaded at the more southern port of Rio Grande where there is a high level of GE growing, so this soy has a high likelihood of being significantly GE contaminated. The GE contaminated soy will be in a separate hatch of the ship and will be discharged in Australia.
3. Identity Preservation (IP) involves ensuring the non-GE purity and segregation of a supply through testing of the seed prior to planting and also through transportation and shipping. The actual premium on non-GE IP soy translates to less than 1 cent per chicken.