McDonald's Vows to Reduce Pesticide Use

McDonald's Corp., the largest buyer of potatoes in the United States, has agreed to survey and promote best practices in pesticide use reduction within its American potato supply chain. The action comes as a result of a shareholder resolution filed by the Bard College Endowment, Newground Social Investment, and the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund, which said the company's commitment will support progress on the pesticide issues that affect the environment, public health, and farm employees.

With the restaurant chain's action, the groups withdrew the shareholder resolution, which they said was the first of its kind focused on environmental and worker health issues ever to be filed by a college or university endowment. Through the agreement, McDonald's has committed to:

  • survey its current U.S. potato suppliers;
  • compile a list of best practices in pesticide reduction that will be recommended to the company's global suppliers (through the company's Global Potato Board); and
  • communicate findings related to best practices to shareholders, as well as in the company's annual corporate social responsibility report.

The agreement was developed by shareholders and McDonald's, with support from the Investor Environmental Health Network, a collaborative partnership of investment managers advised by nongovernmental organizations concerned about the financial and public health risks associated with corporate toxic chemicals policies. The agreement can be found on the SEC Web site at www.sec.gov/divisions/corpfin/cf-noaction/14a-8/2009/bardcollege031109-14a8.pdf.

"Because McDonald's has such a commanding presence in the marketplace, this commitment offers the promise of significant reductions of pesticide use -- which will benefit consumer health, as well as farm workers, local agricultural communities, and the environment," said Bruce Herbert, chief executive officer of Newground Social Investment, a Seattle-based Registered Investment Advisor, and member of the Institute for Children's Environmental Health board of directors.

Dr. Richard Liroff, executive director of the Investor Environmental Health Network, added, "Leadership companies such as Sysco (which supplies Wendy's), General Mills, and Campbell's have already demonstrated that pesticide use reduction makes sense from both an environmental health and business perspective. We welcome McDonald's stepping up to the plate and look forward to supporting the company's efforts to reduce pesticide use in the future."

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