Tell McDonald’s: Stop Toxic Pesticide Drift. Require Your Potato Producers to Reduce Pesticide Use
A Minnesota-based group calling itself the Toxic Taters Coalition says Minnesotans are tired of putting up with toxic chemicals and pesticides drifting into their yards, schools and farms—the result of the state’s potato farmers' frequent spraying of their potato crops with toxic chemicals.
The coalition says it’s time for McDonald’s to keep the promise it made in 2009, to reduce the amount of pesticides used to produce the company’s famous fries. For the good of not only Minnesotans, but citizens everywhere who are exposed to pesticide drift from potato fields.
Tell McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson: Stop Toxic Pesticide Drift. Require Your Potato Producers to Reduce Pesticide Use.
When Minnesota residents living near potato fields developed serious chronic health problems, and some operators of small farms lost livestock to mysterious illnesses, a group of concerned Minnesotans suspected the problem was linked to the chemicals sprayed on potato fields. The pesticides and chemicals, they believed, were drifting well beyond the potato fields.
Using drift catchers, the coalition found chemicals such as chlorothalonil (classified by the EPA has “highly toxic” and a “probable” carcinogen), chlorpyrifos, pendimethalin, PCNB and 2,4-D in 66 percent of air samples they tested.
The coalition tried working with state agencies and the region’s largest potato producer, R.D. Offutt Company (RDO), to resolve the pesticide drift problem. Their efforts went nowhere.
Now the coalition is targeting the buyer of most of the potatoes produced by RDO—McDonald’s.
McDonald’s buys more than 3.4 billion pounds of U.S.-grown potatoes every year. As the largest buyer of potatoes in the world, the $7-billion fast food chain has the power to create change in potato-producing regions across the country, not just in Minnesota. All it has to do is require that its potato suppliers implement strategies to reduce the use of pesticides.
Non-organic potatoes typically are grown using massive amounts of chemicals. Potato fields are sometimes sprayed every five days at the height of the growing season. That’s why conventionally (which means, chemically) grown potatoes always make it onto the list of the top 10 fruits and vegetables to avoid if you want to avoid pesticide residue.
The pesticides and other chemicals used to grow non-organic potatoes don’t just end up on the potatoes themselves. These toxic chemicals drift into neighboring communities, homes and schools.
The Toxic Tater Coalition wants McDonald’s to require RDO, and other companies that supply its potatoes, to follow the lead of Idaho potato growers who have successfully used integrated pest management (IPM) strategies to reduce pesticide use. Interestingly, by implementing IPM techniques, Idaho potato growers have also increased their profits.
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