Undercover Investigation Shows How McDonald’s Is Destroying Brazil’s Amazon

Greenpeace exposed this Thursday, April 6, the role played by American-based fast-food chain McDonald’s in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

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 being published in a new report, "Eating up the Amazon". 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 coordinator, 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, are fueling 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 labor.

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 in the issue dated March 23, 2006, 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 says they have documentary evidence that proves the following:

The soya from Amazon farms is exported from Santarém, in the state of Pará, in Brazil, to Europe, along with non-Amazon soya. Cargill exported over 220,000 tons 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.

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.

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.

Greenpeace – www.greeenpeace.org

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