The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
100,000 Americans Tell McDonald’s to Pass on Biotech Fries
Food & Water Watch (FWW) delivered a letter signed by more than 100,000 Americans telling fast-food giant McDonald's not to buy a new genetically engineered organism (GMO)—a potato from one of its main suppliers that is up for approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Innate brand GMO potato that awaits regulatory approval was developed by J.R. Simplot, which is McDonald’s leading potato supplier for its fries. The five GMO varieties of Simplot’s potatoes up for approval are engineered to reduce black spot bruising and are less likely to produce the chemical acrylamide when fried (some studies have linked acrylamide to cancer).
These potatoes will be used as frozen fries, potato chips and shoestrings, which make up about half of the potato market in the U.S., according to the company.
McDonald’s, which controls 15 percent of the fast-food market, is the largest purchaser of potatoes in the U.S. McDonald’s buys more than 3.4 billion pounds of U.S. potatoes annually, according to a 2009 Associated Press article.
“If this new genetically engineered potato is approved, McDonald's has the power to make it ubiquitous and consumers will never know that the fries in their kids’ Happy Meal contain DNA genetically altered in a lab,” said Wenonah Hauter, FWW executive director and author of the book Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America.
FWW submitted more than 40,000 comments to the USDA in July encouraging it to not approve the potato. However, it is possible that USDA could release its Environmental Assessment and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) any day now. After that point, only one more public comment period is available before approval.
“Poll after poll shows that consumers want to know whether their food is genetically engineered," Hauter said. "These 100,000 people who have joined us in calling on McDonald’s further prove that Americans are fed up with being guinea pigs in the science experiment of under-tested, unlabeled and potentially unsafe GE foods. Agreeing to buy this biotech potato will put McDonald’s reputation for its world-famous fries at risk.”
“While it’s a step on the right direction for McDonald’s to say they currently don’t have plans to use the genetically engineered apple, apples are small potatoes compared to the amount of potatoes McDonald’s uses on a daily basis,” Hauter said.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Joe Vukovich
Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.
By Emily Moran
If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."
By Catherine Davidson
Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.
Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.
Air pollution particles from motor vehicle exhaust have been linked to brain cancer for the first time, researchers at McGill University in Montreal say.