Washington, D.C. — Are the french fries in Happy Meals soon to be genetically engineered? Not if McDonald’s refuses to source new genetically engineered potatoes from one of its main potato suppliers. That’s why national consumer organization Food & Water Watch launched a campaign today to ask McDonald’s to publicly refuse to source the “Innate”-brand genetically engineered (GE) potato now up for regulatory approval by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The GE potato developer, J.R. Simplot, currently provides McDonald’s with most of the potatoes it uses in its french fries.
“McDonald’s has built its reputation in part on its world famous french fries,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “We’re asking consumers to tell them not to harm that reputation by sourcing untested, unlabeled and potentially unsafe genetically engineered potatoes for a food that’s heavily marketed to children.”
The McDonald’s web site showcases its potato farmers proudly, claiming it uses the “Russet Burbank” variety of potatoes, better known as the Idaho potato. McDonald’s, which controls 15 percent of the enormous fast-food market, is the largest purchaser of potatoes in the United States. Hauter has written extensively about this trend towards heavy consolidation in the food system in her book, Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America.
“If enough consumers tell McDonald’s that the GE potato is a really bad idea, they might listen,” said Hauter. “Otherwise, we might see genetically engineered spuds in many fast-food fries in just a few short years.”
Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]