Greenpeace investigation links fast food giants to Amazon destruction

Campaign launched to hold McDonald's accountable

Press release - April 6, 2006
Greenpeace today exposed the role played by McDonald's in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. (1)

Aerial view in the rainforest, Para State, Amazon. The forest is being burned by the US based Cargill corporation to clear land for soya plantations.

As part of a new campaign to tackle the latest threat to the Amazon, Greenpeace has completed a year-long undercover investigation into the global trade in Amazon soya. The findings are today published in a new report, Eating up the Amazon (2). 

Using satellite images, aerial surveillance, previously unreleased government documents and on-the-ground monitoring, Greenpeace traced soya from criminal rainforest destruction to McDonald's restaurants and to supermarkets across Europe.

In response, this morning dozens of seven-foot-tall chickens invaded McDonald's restaurants across the UK and chained themselves to chairs. Scores of McDonald's around the country, including Leicester Square, London, were also fly-posted overnight with images of Ronald McDonald wielding a chainsaw.  In Munich, Germany, protestors also gathered at McDonald's European environmental affairs headquarters and called on the company to stop destroying the Amazon rainforest.

Greenpeace forests campaign co-ordinator, Gavin Edwards, said:

"Fast food giants like McDonald's are trashing the Amazon for cheap meat. Every time you buy a Chicken McNugget you could be taking a bite out of the Amazon."

Three US commodities giants, Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill, which control most of Europe's soya market (3), are fuelling the rainforest destruction to grow feed for animals in Europe. Cargill, which is leading the invasion, has done deals with unscrupulous farms that have illegally grabbed and deforested areas of public and indigenous land. Some have even used slave labour.

Cargill has illegally built its own port in the heart of the Amazon, from which it exports the soya to the Cargill terminal in Liverpool, UK. From there, the soya goes to Cargill-owned food producer, Sun Valley, which feeds the soya to the chickens it uses to make McNuggets, which it distributes to McDonald's restaurants across Europe.

A recent report in scientific journal Nature (4) warned that 40% of the Amazon will be lost by 2050 if current trends in agricultural expansion continue, threatening biodiversity and seriously contributing to climate change. Soya monocultures also rely heavily on toxic chemicals, and some also grow genetically engineered soya in the Amazon.

Edwards added: "This crime stretches from the heart of the Amazon across the entire European food industry. Supermarkets and fast food giants, like McDonald's, must make sure their food is free from the links to the Amazon destruction, slavery and human rights abuses."

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Gavin Edwards, Greenpeace International forests campaign co-ordinator (m) +31 652 391429Pat Venditti, Greenpeace UK senior forests campaigner (m) +44 797 337 5089

Notes: (1) Greenpeace has documentary evidence that proves the following:* The soya from Amazon farms is exported from Santarém to Europe, along with non-Amazon soya. Cargill exported over 220,000 tonnes of Brazilian soya from Santarém to Liverpool in the UK from March 2005 to February 2006. * Greenpeace has tracked Santarém soya from Cargill's Liverpool facility to an animal feed producer whose chickens are processed into Chicken McNuggets and other products by Sun Valley. Senior Sun Valley staff told Greenpeace 25% of their chicken feed comes from Cargill's Liverpool facility.* Sun Valley supplies chicken to McDonald's across Europe* Through separate McDonald's business units in Wolverhampton and Orleans in France, Sun Valley is McDonald's largest poultry supplier in Europe, producing half of all chicken products used by McDonald's across Europe.* In a meeting last week between Greenpeace and McDonald's, the company did not deny that their chicken is fed on Amazon Soya. Greenpeace first asked McDonald's to account for their chicken feed three months ago.(2) A copy of the "Eating up the Amazon' is available on:http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/eating-up-the-amazonA shorter crime file, based on the report: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/amazon-soya-crime-file(3) Cargill, together with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Bunge, controls 60% of soya production in Brazil and more than three-quarters of Europe's soya crushing industry that supplies soya meal and oil to the animal feed market.(4) Nature, 23rd March 2006.

Exp. contact date: 2007-04-06 00:00:00