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The Amazon rainforest is on fire. But what does this have to do with McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King? Here are the top five reasons why these fast food giants must take a stand against Amazon destruction:
5. Because they buy products that fuel forest destruction
The Amazon fires are no accident. Close to 2.5 million hectares of land – an area larger than Wales – was burned in the Brazilian Amazon during August, according to data published by INPE, Brazil’s agency responsible for monitoring forests from space. Fires were deliberately started by farmers and land grabbers, encouraged by President Bolsonaro’s calls to open the Amazon to agriculture.
From the dense rainforests to the rolling savannas, Brazil’s natural ecosystems are being decimated to produce beef and soya. And McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King are sourcing vast amounts of these goods. Both Burger King and McDonald’s buy Brazilian beef. All three companies serve chicken fed a diet of soya from Brazil.
4. Because they promised to stop deforestation – but haven’t
McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC all committed to stop deforestation, but they are all failing. Not only do they continue to buy from companies with links to forest destruction, including notorious meat-packers who operate in the Amazon. These fast food companies also aggressively build demand for meat, driving deforestation. This encourages agribusiness’ aggressive expansion into the Amazon and other forests around the world.
3. Because other companies are already taking a stand
H&M, Timberland and Vans won’t use leather from Brazil until they’re assured that it doesn’t cause environmental harm. The world’s largest salmon producer is threatening to stop buying Brazilian soya for its fish farms. Even in the financial sector, two big investment funds and an asset management company are monitoring or limiting investments in Brazil.
If these companies can take a stand, so too can fast food companies. Burger King, KFC and McDonald’s have no excuse.
2. Because their pressure could win protection for the Amazon
The pressure is mounting on President Bolsonaro. People, politicians and companies around the world are speaking out against his attack on the Amazon and those who depend on it. The powerful Brazilian businesses that helped bring Bolsonaro to power are feeling the heat. Their leaders are speaking out against Bolsonaro’s response to the fires. Bolsonaro has thus far resisted the pressure, but he cannot continue forever.
KFC, McDonald’s and Burger King are among the biggest names in fast food. Their restaurants can be found around the world. If these fast food companies speak out against forest destruction and change their ways, an entire industry could follow, leaving Bolsonaro with no choice but to back off the Amazon.
1. And we need the Amazon for our survival
Every person on earth depends on the Amazon to help regulate our climate. Even McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King need the rainforest.
The Amazon rainforest sucks carbon from the air and stores it in billions of trees. It produces a “flying river” of water vapour that impacts weather in other continents. It brings rain to otherwise dry regions of South America. It is home to hundreds of Indigenous Peoples, and a staggering diversity of plant and animal species.
Without it, we could face bigger droughts, famines, heatwaves and storms – and the loss of one of the most magical places on earth. And if that isn’t reason enough, then what is?
Reykia Fick is a Global Communications Lead at Greenpeace UK