Greenpeace campaigns for sustainable, ecological agriculture without genetic enginneering and the use of toxic chemicals. For almost 20 years the environmental protection organization has been drawing attention to the risky cultivation of genetically modified plants in its campaigns. The majority of globally cultivated genetically modified (GM) plants like GMsoya and GM corn ends up in feed for cows, chickens and pigs.
Genetically-manipulated animal feed
The cultivation of genetically modified plants like GM-soya has massive ecological repercussions: GM-soya have been genetically modified to make it resistant to the controversial herbicide glyphosate. On the GM-soya fields all plant life is destroyed, only the genetically-manipulated plants survive the massive use of pesticides. The repercussions on the eco-system are huge. Animals, such as birds or bees, find less food or are damaged directly by the pesticides. Numerous toxic effects on soil and water organisms are already known, and there is increasing evidence of the danger to mammals – as well as to human beings. Increasing numbers of studies link agricultural toxins containing glyphosate to long-term and chronic health damage, such as disorders of the endocrine system or mutagenic properties. Extensive use of the same agricultural chemicals also makes weeds increasingly resistant. Resistances against glyphosate develop particularly fast and can meanwhile be observed in most types of weed. The result: increasingly stronger pesticides have to be used on the fields to get rid of the weeds. Inhabitants of the cultivation regions, such as South America, are usually completely unprotected and exposed to the chemicals sprayed from airplanes.
Situation in Germany
Following a big Greenpeace campaign in 2000 McDonald’s was one of the first companies to stop using chicken meat that has been produced with genetically-modified animal feed. The big poultry farmers followed suit and finally German retailers also announced that they would forgo the use of genetically-modified soya in its production of chicken meat. But this year McDonald’s Germany took a U-turn, deciding it is cheaper to use GM soya for feeding the animals. So protecting the environment became too expensive for McDonald’s. In the production of chicken meat the fast-food chain is once again feeding the animals with genetically-modified soya, and things don’t look any better in beef and pork production either. The consumer is often left unaware because the fact that genetically-modified feed has been used to feed the animals does not have to be shown on the labels of the milkshakes, eggs, burgers and chicken nuggets.
Greenpeace wants to convince McDonald's, as Germany’s biggest fast-food chain, to take the bold step and permanently improve its production standards for meat and particularly chicken. The production of cheap meat is jointly responsible for the biggest environmental problems of our time, such as climate change, deforestation, extinction and the pollution of the air, soil and water as a result of the risky cultivation of genetically-modified plants. Foregoing the use of genetic engineering would be a first important step and a relatively simple step towards sustainable meat production.
The aim of the campaign is to attract attention to the problem of genetically-modified animal feed via digital and analog channels and to thereby increase the pressure on McDonald’s, in order to encourage the fast-food giant to forgo the use of genetically-modified animal feed in poultry farming once again.
Although Greenpeace remains realistic: “Asking McDonald’s not to sell any more meat would be like forbidding VW to produce cars. But McDonald’s needs to do things better. Simply painting the company logo green isn’t enough. Instead of focusing on cheap mass goods, it’s time for the quality to take center stage. And this begins on the field, by using less pesticides and fertilizers and no genetic engineering in the production of feed. As the world’s biggest fast-food chain McDonald’s can boldly act as a role model and show others how to be more ecological.” (Quote from Greenpeace).
Stay tuned to find out the jury members which will be announced October 1st!