Victory as fast food giant pledges to help protect the Amazon

Feature story - 25 July, 2006
In an historic deal that has impacts far beyond the golden arches and into the global agricultural market, McDonald's is now the leading company in the campaign to halt deforestation for the expansion of soya farming in the Amazon.

McDonald's tree huggerAfter massive consumer pressure, McDonald's will no longer sell chicken fed on soya grown in deforested areas of the Amazon rainforest.

Thanks to enormous pressure from the thousands of emails and letters sent to their European headquarters by you, our supporters, McDonald's has agreed to stop selling chicken fed on soya grown in newly deforested areas of the Amazon rainforest.

Soya key driver of Amazon destruction

In recent years, the seemingly unstoppable expansion of soya farming in the Amazon had become one of the main threats to the world's largest rainforest. The soya wasn't being used to feed the world; instead it was used to feed farm animals destined for fast food and supermarket chains across Europe.

In April we launched our campaign exposing the food retailer's role in rainforest destruction. Our report, Eating Up the Amazon, detailed how McDonald's and other companies were implicated in deforestation, land-grabbing, slavery and violence. Since then there has been a sea change in attitude among the food industry towards the problem.

The result is that McDonald's and other big food retailers have worked with us to develop a zero deforestation plan. The plan will also help bring an end to the land-grabbing and social injustice that is rife in the Amazon.

Pressure for change

By committing to the plan, the companies' massive buying power has created a huge demand for soya that hasn't been grown in the ashes of the rainforest. This put pressure on the 'big five' soya traders - Cargill, ADM, Bunge, Dreyfus and Amaggi to come to the negotiating table with the future of large areas of the Amazon rainforest at stake.

In response to the pressure, the soya traders committed to a limited two year moratorium of buying soya from deforested areas. The two-year time frame of the soya traders moratorium risks being no more than a token gesture, unless the traders deliver real change to protect the Amazon.

Greenpeace is demanding that the moratorium stays until proper procedures for legality and governance are in place and until there is an agreement with the Brazilian Government and key stakeholders on long term protection for the Amazon rainforest. A working group will be established, made up of soya traders, producers, NGOs, and government to put in place an action plan.

Karen Van Bergen, Vice President of McDonald's Europe said, "When we were first alerted to this issue by Greenpeace, we immediately reached out to our suppliers, other NGOs and other companies to resolve this issue and take action. We are determined to do the right thing together with our suppliers and the Brazilian government, to protect the Amazon from further destruction."

"The two-year time frame set for the initiative is, we hope, indicative of the sense of urgency with which the soya traders wish to implement the governance programme and all of its conditions. We expect that should some of the measures take longer than the stated two years to implement, the moratorium would remain in existence until all commitments have been fulfilled."

There are some companies, however, who refuse to play ball. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), have point-blank refused to discuss their role in Amazon destruction.

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