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Greenpeace Letter To McDonalds

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  • Greenpeace Letter To McDonalds

    Letter from Greenpeace in response to McDonald's Letter

    20 April 2004
    Liam Jeory
    Director of Corporate Relations
    PO Box 6644
    Wellesley Street
    New Zealand

    Cc; Alan Dunn (McDonalds CEO); Mike Rozen (Inghams Managing Director)

    Dear Liam,

    Thank you for your letter of 2 April 2004. I write in response to some of the points you make regarding McDonalds policy on GE ingredients and feed.

    Firstly Greenpeace commends you for what efforts McDonalds has already gone to in exclusion of GE crop derived ingredients from your products.

    There may be more clarity required in terms of what Greenpeace regards as reasonable and thorough GE crop exclusion in that we do not consider the FSANZ (formally ANZFA) compliance standard to be an adequate assurance of a non-GE crop derived status.

    However, neither do we expect “solemn declarations” or 100% guarantees of a total GE free status because, in the case of some ingredients, such as soy derived ingredients and animal feed, we acknowledge it may be difficult to reliably achieve a 100% purity. For this reason we consider, in the case of soy meal animal feed, that a 99% purity is a reasonable standard and expectation for any non-GE claim, and as you point out, this is what Tegel New Zealand claim to be consistently achieving for their soy meal feed.

    It is worth noting that this is a standard also met by a number of poultry companies in Europe with considerably larger feed demands than Ingham, such as Grampian. In regard to international best practice regarding 1% contamination thresholds, please also note that under new European labelling regulations any ingredient, including feed, with less than 0.9% GE derived content does not require to be labelled as a GMO, but above 0.9% it does require to be labelled. I also note, as is my understanding, that McDonalds has a Europe wide policy of excluding GE in food and poultry feed.

    McDonalds avoidance of GE ingredients and feed should not only be done out of a commitment to customer preference and concerns about potential health impacts but also out of a commitment to environmental sustainability. In terms of the environment, non-GE feed supply is very important because it avoids the known and potential harms that GE crop production poses to our agriculture, food supply and environment, such as increased chemical use, lower yields, herbicide resistant weeds and contamination of conventional and organic crops – all of which have resulted from the growing of GE soy in the US and Argentina.

    My inference from you letter and our earlier conversation is that McDonalds has or is moving towards a position of preferring that your suppliers are providing animal products, and chicken specifically, that is raised on a diet of conventional or non-genetically engineered feed. However your policy does not actually require this of your suppliers.

    In terms of the GE Free Food Guide there are three categorisations. The green category is for companies that have achieved a non-GE crop derived status for both animal feed and ingredients. The orange category is for companies that have an explicit policy of excluding GE crop derived ingredients and feed. The red category is for companies that do not have an explicit non-GE feed and ingredient policy or fail to respond adequately to requests for information.

    Unfortunately, whilst we acknowledge your apparent consideration of a non-GE feed commitment, you have as yet no stated policy of excluding GE feed and you certainly have not achieved a non-GE feed status so we cannot categorise McDonalds as orange or green.

    I was initially happy to hear that Inghams have a shipment of what they claim is non-GE soy arriving in June. However, contrary to what you assert that “every effort will continue to be made to source non GMO feed”, Mike Rozen has stated that Ingham were not and are not seeking a regular supply of non-GE soy. It seems from what Mr Rozen tells me that it is an accident of circumstance that the soy Ingham are getting may be non-GE. He has also pointed out that it is not a certified or Identity Preserved (IP) supply so there can be no assurance of the actual non-GE purity of the soy.

    Mr Rozen claims that Ingham will continue with this supply source if it is of a quality that they are happy with but there is no actual commitment to specifically sourcing non-GE soy on Inghams part now or into the future. This situation is entirely unsatisfactory in that the June shipment or subsequent shipments could be of a significantly GE contaminated status. Thus no one can rightly claim a non-GE feed policy on the basis of this single unverified shipment.

    Any claim of a non-GE feed status or actual commitment to sourcing non- GE soy needs to be supported by appropriate testing of the supply and documentation of it’s non-GE status. Responsibility for such verification obviously sits with your supplier if this is what you require of them.

    Greenpeace certainly has an understanding of the “complexity of the issues,” and we seek to make our position as clear as possible at all times. Ultimately any company, McDonalds included, is fully responsible for ensuring it is receiving non-GE ingredients and non-GE feed derived animal products from its suppliers, if that is what it wants.

    I once again urge McDonalds to establish an explicit non-GE feed policy for your animal products in line with your existing GE ingredient exclusion policy and in line with your European counterparts non-GE poultry feed policies. Until such time I am sorry that McDonalds will be classified in the red section of the Greenpeace GE Free Food Guide.

    The Guide is due to be launched on the fourth of May, at which time, as I assured you, statements from your letter regarding McDonalds policy will be published in our online guide.

    I remain available to discuss or clarify these matters at any time.

    Yours sincerely

    Steve Abel Genetic Engineering Campaign
    Free business resources - www.BusinessBlogsHub.com

  • #2
    McDonalds Letter

    Letter to Greenpeace released by McDonald's
    2 April 2004

    Steve Abel
    New Zealand
    Private Bag 92507
    Wellesley Street

    Dear Steve

    Thank you for your letter of February 20 2004 regarding McDonald’s genetically engineered ingredient policy and categorisation in the Greenpeace GE Free Food Guide.

    As we discussed on the telephone, McDonald’s is not in the practice of making solemn declarations of the type requested by Greenpeace. We are; however, very happy to discuss our policy as we believe it is one which your organisation would generally applaud.

    Quite simply, our policy is not to serve food containing genetically modified ingredients to our customers. In practical terms, it means we require letters of compliance from our suppliers that they understand and meet our policy. The standard we use for compliance is that set by ANZFA.

    The only area of the Greenpeace food guide where I would anticipate any difficulty in meeting your organisation’s questions would be that relating to non-GE feed derived animal products, namely chicken.

    I will seek to explain our dilemma. We cannot import chicken – so we are restricted to New Zealand suppliers only. Given the size of our requirements, we are limited to just three potential suppliers. While Greenpeace may have a focus on the GE feed status of those suppliers, we are required to consider a wider range of issues of which animal welfare standards, food safety, security of supply, quality standards, allergen management, processing capability and many others are vitally important.

    Our main supplier, Inghams, is aware of our position on GMOs and has documented to us the significant efforts it makes to source non GMO feed, although it has doubts about the sustainability of such feed and concerns about quality. We have been advised that the next shipment of soya to NZ is non GMO and every effort will continue to be made to source non GM soy where quality, price and sustainability can be maintained.

    In a statement on the GE status of Tegel products, Tegel declares “Tegel chicken is not genetically modified. There are no novel proteins or DNA present in the chicken and genetic engineering has not been used in the development of the bird.”

    Inghams is able to make the same statement to us. Ingham’s assures McDonald’s that the chicken product it supplies is not genetically modified in any way. Prior to replying to your letter we commissioned AgriQuality to test the chicken supplied to us by Ingham’s and we can confirm to you that those tests have validated both Ingham’s and McDonald’s positions that the chicken protein we sell is not genetically modified in any way.

    We believe that being able to give this assurance best meets our policy and ability to assure the public of New Zealand that they are not consuming genetically modified chicken from McDonald’s.

    On the subject of non GE crops used in feed, Tegel states that “…it is not possible for Tegel to make a GE Free declaration.”

    Tegel goes on to say that “with the extensive plantings of GE soya in the USA it is not possible to obtain meal that does not have low levels of contamination. The soya purchased by Tegel typically has less than 1% GE contamination.”

    Therefore there is no such thing as GE free feed available to any potential chicken supplier in New Zealand, and no honest declaration of GE free can be made by anyone.

    We are well aware of the Greenpeace campaign in this regard. We find ourselves therefore having to take a position which best meets the needs of our customers, whilst negotiating the differing positions of your organization and Inghams.

    It is our expectation that all of our suppliers are open to public sentiment regarding their products and we encourage them to have open dialogue so that they make the best decisions for all concerned.

    Were Ingham’s able to source a greater degree of non-GE modified soy meal than they already do, we would be highly supportive of that. But even then a degree of contamination is likely (to a greater and lesser extent) no matter what the policy.

    In recognition of the efforts McDonald’s has gone to on this issue and our official policy on this matter, it would be correct and fair to confer upon us a green rating at best, and an orange rating at worst. At the very least there ought to be understanding of the complexity of these issues for businesses such as ours.

    After our last conversation I assured you that this letter would be sent, and you promised me that our position would be publicised on your website. Thank you for that offer.

    Should you like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Yours sincerely

    Liam Jeory Director of Corporate Relations
    Free business resources - www.BusinessBlogsHub.com


    • #3
      ha ha ha ha, very funny!!

      I would be very surprised if anyone from Greenpeace would ever eat McDonalds.