Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Protesters target McDonald's for use of potatoes treated with pesticides

Minnesota-based Toxic Taters Coalition is leading a protest today at McDonald's restaurants against the use of potatoes treated with pesticides, Don Davis reports for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. The group, which will hand out organic potatoes at restaurants in seven states and Canada, planned the protest for today to coincide with the move by McDonald's to begin offering all-day breakfast. (MPR News photo by Don Gunderson: An irrigation rig watered potato plants near Park Rapids, Minn., last summer)

"Toxic Taters is made up of a group of people who live near potato fields that they feel are treated too heavily with pest-killing chemicals," Davis writes. "Also participating is the Pesticide Action Network North America. The groups will tell McDonald's customers interested in the subject that people who live near fields where potatoes are grown for McDonald's French fries and hash browns are exposed to pesticides that drift from fields. The pesticides, the organizations say, hurt people's health."

The protest is mainly focused on Fargo, N.D.-based producer R.D. Offutt Co.—the world's largest potato producer, John Enger reports for MPR News. "Offutt supplies some of McDonald's fries and hash brown patties through several processing companies." Horan said Offutt sprays too many pesticides on its crops, especially in central Minnesota where chemicals often blow over residential areas.

Offutt President Keith McGovern "said his company already tries to use the smallest amount of fertilizer, insecticide and fungicide in the most responsible ways," Enger writes. "The company uses drones, infrared cameras and a crew of scientists to improve efficiency. He said the company couldn't cut chemical use any faster, even if McDonald's executives asked. He told Enger, "We couldn't grow enough potatoes to feed a reasonable number of people without using crop protectants." (Read more)

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