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Company: McDonalds
Subject: Pesticide Use Reduction
Year: 2009
Sector: Food Retail/Processing
Lead Filer: Bard College Endowment
Cofiler(s): Newground Investments, AFL-CIO
Outcome: Withdrawn in response to corporate commitments

Whereas: McDonalds’ has stated an aspiration that product ingredients “be produced in ways that contribute positively to the development of sustainable agricultural and food manufacturing practices,” yet our company has not systematically addressed the use of pesticides in its food sources;

McDonalds has a robust corporate social responsibility commitment with considerable accomplishments across a wide array of other environmental concerns such as packaging waste and energy use and has established a corporate code of conduct for its suppliers addressing child labor, compensation, and other significant social concerns;

Pesticides impose a heavy burden on farmworkers, adjacent communities, and the environment. Reducing pesticide use can reduce these burdens and production costs. Reduced pesticide use can also yield reputational benefits, since McDonalds markets heavily to children and their parents, and children are especially vulnerable to pesticides.

Sysco Corporation, which supplies Wendy’s, Applebee’s, and other restaurant providers, has established an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program that in its first three years reduced pesticide use by nearly 900,000 pounds. Sysco’s program requires its suppliers to prepare IPM programs and employs third party auditors.

Campbell Soup Company has established promoting sustainable agriculture as a corporate priority and for more than twenty years has been implementing IPM practices for tomatoes grown in the United States and Mexico. Campbell’s program, which has expanded to other crops, has produced cost savings and has reduced pesticide use on targeted farms by approximately 50%.

General Mills, since 1980, has reduced the pounds of insecticide applied to corn products by 70%, reduced insecticide applications by 40%, and reduced insect control costs by 37%. General Mills has also reduced the use of the most toxic pesticides in favor of less toxic pesticides, and has established future pesticide reduction goals.

In Idaho, a multi-stakeholder collaborative demonstration project has shown that mustard greens can be used successfully as a “bio-fumigant” instead of chemical pesticides to control insects and plant diseases affecting potato crops, at reduced cost.

In its longstanding commitment to pesticide use reduction, Gerber Products Company, the dominant baby foods producer in the United States, has supported successful apple IPM efforts that have prompted its growers to eliminate use of hazardous organophosphate insecticides in favor of lower risk pesticides and biological controls.

Resolved: We request that within one year the Board publish a report to shareholders on policy options for McDonalds to reduce pesticide use in its supply chain, at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information.

Supporting statement: The proponents recommend that the report identify: those fruit and vegetable supply chains where pesticide use reduction and farmworker and community benefits are most promising; key performance indicators; incentives, technical assistance mechanisms, and other methods; and timetables and future goals.  The report should also identify methods and best practices for monitoring farmworker and community health, treating and reducing farmworker exposure, and reporting publicly on these activities.


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