Nearly 25 years ago I discovered that McDonalds were one of the main reasons why the rainforest was being cut down and ever since I have never eaten there!
In the past 50 years much of the rainforest in Africa, Asia and central and South America has been destroyed. Large areas of this magic are being cut down at double the rate of previous estimates. Unfortunately this means there is a very high rate of extinction, as wildlife depending on the forest dies with it!
And who is playing the major role in this destroying of the rainforest in South America, McDONALDS!!
Because of the companies like McDonald's, the Amazon rainforest is disappearing at an alarming rate.Previously the forest covered 14% of the earth's surface and now it is only 6%!! By this speed it will all disappear within 40 years!!
I have just returned from working in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest at Manu Learning Centre with Crees Foundation. While I was there, I was very upset when I discovered that some of the American interns that I was working with, who had been there for 2-3 months, had no idea why they were protecting the rainforest other than the trees being cut down for wood. I told them about McDonald's and they came up with all excuses saying that, we are here to research the forest, not to protect it and the beef goes to Japan anyway and not to the USA. When I corrected them, they came across as though they didn't really care and one even said, as soon as I get to Cusco, I'm going to McDonald's!! I won't reply what I said, but I was just hoping it was a joke. Unfortunately it wasn't and I then felt that they were here just for the experience of working in a rainforest and for their CV's! I also said that you are here researching the rainforest to protect it from companies like McDonald's.
Over ten years ago, I made my third visit to Australia and like before, to work in the rainforest. While sitting in the office waiting to be told where I'll be working, there were bags with McDonald's written all over them. I asked the forest leader why have you got McDonald's on those bags? He told me that they sponsor Australia Conservation. 'What!?' I told them that McDonald's are damaging the rainforest and they should not be sponsoring you. 'We need the money' He also hadno idea what the hell I was on about. It's was McDonald's way of showing that they have a green side hiding away their darker side.
In the Amazon, I was very keen to see the damage that is being done by deforestation by McDonald's on the edge of the reserve that I was working in. At the same time, I wasn't looking forward to what I was going to see and when I stepped out of the dark forest into the open, I was shocked by what I was observing! Standing in the long grass on the border of the forest, I took a long look around and tried to work out, why anyone would want to cut the forest down? From looking at the blue skies above me, I took a couple steps into the dark and had a look at the forest canopy and then returned out into the open again. From a forest burned to the ground, because of McDonald's, to grass!!! It was getting to me that where I was standing now, was not long ago covered in rainforest! One thing I did know is that it is the local people who were involved. Now, I'm not blaming them for what's going on. I think if I lived in the Amazon and you had no money and a family to feed and you were offered a job of cutting the trees down, then I would also take it on. The big companies that are responsible here, like McDonald's and are challenged by environmental groups and scientist for what they are doing. would have an argument saying they are supplying jobs for the people living in the area. However, the workers are treated rough and pay for there own transport. In fact, it is well known that McDonald's treats the loggers in the same fashion as slave labour. There is no argument. This has got to stop and it's got to stop now!!
It was so hard to believe that this was once a rainforest and is now just long over grown grass. This area of grass was too tough for the cows to graze on but not far away from here where pastures were not so tough, cows were munching away
A few minutes from the grassy area, we came across the upsetting sight of our first of many cut down trees. Note the strips of wood to the right of Rambo, These were scattered around the forest edge floor for the loggers to return and collect.
This area was cut down 5 or 6 years ago!
Loggers track entering the river from the left.
Loggers trucks carry the wood using the river as a road which goes straight through the reserve.
There are so many reasons why the rainforest is being destroyed. Wood for paper and furniture (any mahogany that you see in the UK has got to of come from the rainforest) Palm Oil, sugar cane, coffee and tea, cocaine and mining for minerals and metals. However, the major one is for soybean farming and beef. McDonald's are the main culprit and that's what I want to talk about. The destruction that McDonald's is causing in the rainforest and just like the other companies destroying the rainforest, turning a blind eye to it all. Millions and millions of acres are cut down and burned. The land is set on fire to get rid of the trees and then it is cleared and turned into grass pastures for cows to graze.
Rambo chewing on coco leaves in one of the loggers cabins.
How many trees has this cutting chain cut down?
Many rainforest in South and Central America have been burnt down to make way for cattle farming, which supplies cheap beef to North America, Europe and China. Many fast food outlets, including KFC, take advantage of this, knowing where it is coming from and they are responsible for the cutting down of the rainforest. It is estimated that for each pound of beef produced, 200 sq ft of rainforest is destroyed. In the past 20 years, Costa Rica has lost the majority of rainforest to cattle ranching. This is known has slash and burn farming and is believed to account for 50% of rainforest destruction. However, the land cannot be used for long. 15% of the top soil is very poor quality and without the rainforest, the ground becomes dry. The grass often dies after only a few years and cattle farmers have to move on and destroy more rainforest to create green pastures.
And this is slash and burn
This is the impact that slash and burn does
- THERE's no point in feeling guilty about eating while watching starving African children on TV. If you do send money to Band Aid, or shop at Oxfam, etc., that's morally good but politically useless. It shifts the blame from governments and does nothing to challenge the power of multinational corporations.
HUNGRY FOR DOLLARS
- McDonald's is one of several giant corporations with investments in vast tracts of land in poor countries, sold to them by the dollar-hungry rulers (often military) and privileged elites, evicting the small farmers that live there growing food fortheir own people.The power of the US dollar means that in order to buy technology and manufactured goods, poor countries are trapped into producing more and more food for export to the States. Out of 40 of the world's poorest countries, 36 export food to the USA - thewealthiest.
- Some 'Third World' countries, where most children are undernourished, are actually exporting their staple crops as animal feed - i.e. to fatten cattle for turning into burgers in the 'First World'. Millions of acres of the best farmland in poor contries are being used for our benefit - for tea, coffee, tobacco, etc. - while people there are starving. McDonald's is directly involved in this economic imperialism, which keeps most black people poor and hungry while many whites grow fat.
|GROSS MISUSE OF RESOURCES|
GRAIN is fed to cattle in South American countries to produce the meat in McDonald's hamburgers. Cattle consume 10 times the amount of grain and soy that humans do: one calorie of beef demands ten calories of grain. Of the 145 million tons of grain and so fed to livestock, only 21 million tons of meat and by-products are used. The waste is 124 million tons per year at a value of 20 billion US dollars. It has been calculated that this sum would feed, clothe and house the world's entire population fo one year.
|FIFTY ACRES EVERY MINUTE|
EVERY year an area of rainforest the size of Britain is cut down or defoliated, and burnt. Globally, one billion people depend on water flowing from these forests, which soak up rain and release it gradually. The disaster in Ethiopia and Sudan is at leastpartly due to uncontrolled deforestation. In Amazonia - where there are now about 100,000 beef ranches - torrential rains sweep down through the treeless valleys, eroding the land and washing away the soil. The bare earth, baked by the tropical sun, becoms useless for agriculture. It has been estimated that this destruction causes at least one species of animal, plant or insect to become extinct every few hours.
- AROUND the Equator there is a lush green belt of incredibly beautiful tropical forest, untouched by human development for one hundred million years, supporting about half of all Earth's life-forms, including some 30,000 plant species, and producing a ajor part of the planet's crucial supply of oxygen.
PET FOOD & LITTER
- McDonald's and Burger King are two of the many US corporations using lethal poisons to destroy vast areas of Central American rainforest to create grazing pastures for cattle to be sent back to the States as burgers and pet food, and to provide fat-food packaging materials. (Don't be fooled by McDonald's saying they use recycled paper: only a tiny per cent of it is. The truth is it takes 800 square miles of forest just to keep them supplied with paper for one year. Tons of this end up litteing the cities of 'developed' countries.)
- Not only are McDonald's and many other corporations contributing to a major ecological catastrophe, they are forcing the tribal peoples in the rainforests off their ancestral territories where they have lived peacefully, without damaging their envronment, for thousands of years. This is a typical example of the arrogance and viciousness of multinational companies in their endless search for more and more profit.It's no exaggeration to say that when you bite into a Big Mac, you're helping the McDonald's empire to wreck this planet.
- McDONALD's try to show in their "Nutrition Guide" (which is full of impressive-looking but really quite irrelevant facts & figures) that mass-produced hamburgers, chips, colas, milkshakes, etc., are a useful and nutritious part of any diet.What they don't make clear is that a diet high in fat, sugar, animal products and salt (sodium), and low in fibre, vitamins and minerals - which describes an average McDonald's meal - is linked with cancers of the breast and bowel, and heart disease. Thisis accepted medical fact, not a cranky theory. Every year in Britain, heart disease alone causes about 180,000 deaths.
FAST = JUNK
- Even if they like eating them, most people recognise that processed burgers and synthetic chips, served up in paper and plastic containers, is junk-food. McDonald's prefer the name "fast-food". This is not just because it is manufactured and serve up as quickly as possible - it has to be eaten quickly too. It's sign of the junk-quality of Big Macs that people actually hold competitions to see who can eat one in the shortest time.
PAYING FOR THE HABIT
- Chewing is essential for good health, as it promotes the flow of digestive juices which break down the food and send nutrients into the blood. McDonald's food is so lacking in bulk it is hardly possible to chew it. Even their own figures show thata "quarter-pounder" is 48% water. This sort of fake food encourages over-eating, and the high sugar and sodium content can make people develop a kind of addiction - a 'craving'. That means more profit for McDonald's, but constipation, clogged arteries andheart attacks for many customers.
|GETTING THE CHEMISTRY RIGHT|
McDONALD's stripey staff uniforms, flashy lighting, bright plastic decor, "Happy Hats" and muzak, are all part of the gimmicky dressing-up of low-quality food which has been designed down to the last detail to look and feel and taste exactly the sae in any outlet anywhere in the world. To achieve this artificial conformity, McDonald's require that their "fresh lettuce leaf", for example, is treated with twelve different chemicals just to keep it the right colour at the right crispness for th right length of time. It might as well be a bit of plastic.
- NEARLY all McDonald's advertising is aimed at children. Although the Ronald McDonald 'personality' is not as popular as their market researchers expected (probably because it is totally unoriginal), thousands of young children now think of burgers andchips every time they see a clown with orange hair.
THE NORMALITY TRAP
- No parent needs to be told how difficult it is to distract a child from insisting on a certain type of food or treat. Advertisements portraying McDonald's as a happy, circus-like place where burgers and chips are provided for everybody at any hourof the day (and late at night), traps children into thinking they aren't 'normal' if they don't go there too. Appetite, necessity and - above all - money, never enter the "innocent" world of Ronald McDonald.Few children are slow to spot the gaudy red and yellow standardised frontages in shopping centres and high streets throughout the country. McDonald's know exactly what kind of pressure this puts on people looking after children. It's hard not to give in t this 'convenient' way of keeping children 'happy', even if you haven't got much money and you try to avoid junk-food.
- As if to compensate for the inadequacy of their products, McDonald's promote the consumption of meals as a 'fun event'. This turns the act of eating into a performance, with the 'glamour' of being in a McDonald's ('Just like it is in the ads!') reucing the food itself to the status of a prop.
Not a lot of children are interested in nutrition, and even if they were, all the gimmicks and routines with paper hats and straws and balloons hide the fact that the food they're seduced into eating is at best mediocre, at worst poisonous - and their parnts know it's not even cheap.
|RONALD'S DIRTY SECRET|
ONCE told the grim story about how hamburgers are made, children are far less ready to join in Ronald McDonald's perverse antics. With the right prompting, a child's imagination can easily turn a clown into a bogeyman (a lot of children are very suspiciou of clowns anyway). Children love a secret, and Ronald's is especially disgusting.
- THE menu at McDonald's is based on meat. They sell millions of burgers every day in 35 countries throughout the world. This means the constant slaughter, day by day, of animals born and bred solely to be turned into McDonald's products.Some of them - especially chickens and pigs - spend their lives in the entirely artificial conditions of huge factory farms, with no access to air or sunshine and no freedom of movement. Their deaths are bloody and barbaric.
|WHAT'S YOUR POISON?|
MEAT is responsible for 70% of all food-poisoning incidents, with chicken and minced meat (as used in burgers) being the worst offenders. When animals are slaughtered, meat can be contaminated with gut contents, faeces and urine, leading to bacterial infetion. In an attempt to counteract infection in their animals, farmers routinely inject them with doses of antibiotics. These, in addition to growth-promoting hormone drugs and pesticide residues in their feed, build up in the animals' tissues and can furter damage the health of people on a meat-based diet.
- THERE must be a serious problem: even though 80% of McDonald's workers are part-time, the annual staff turnover is 60% (in the USA it's 300 %). It's not unusual for their restaurant-workers to quit after just four or five weeks. The reasons are not had to find.
NO UNIONS ALLOWED
- Workers in catering do badly in terms of pay and conditions. They are at work in the evenings and at weekends, doing long shifts in hot, smelly, noisy environments. Wages are low and chances of promotion minimal.To improve this through Trade Union negotiation is very difficult: there is no union specifically for these workers, and the ones they could join show little interest in the problems of part-timers (mostly women). A recent survey of workers in burger-resturants found that 80% said they needed union help over pay and conditions. Another difficulty is that the 'kitchen trade' has a high proportion of workers from ethnic minority groups who, with little chance of getting work elsewhere, are wary of being saced - as many have been - for attempting union organisation.
McDonald's have a policy of preventing unionisation by getting rid of pro-union workers. So far this has succeeded everywhere in the world except Sweden, and in Dublin after a long struggle.
TRAINED TO SWEAT
- It's obvious that all large chain-stores and junk-food giants depend for their fat profits on the labour of young people. McDonald's is no exception: three-quarters of its workers are under 21. The production-line system deskills the work itself: nybody can grill a hamburger, and cleaning toilets or smiling at customers needs no training. So there is no need to employ chefs or qualified staff - just anybody prepared to work for low wages.As there is no legally-enforced minimum wage in Britain, McDonald's can pay what they like, helping to depress wage levels in the catering trade still further. They say they are providing jobs for school-leavers and take them on regardless of sex or race.The truth is McDonald's are only interested in recruiting cheap labour - which always means that disadvantaged groups, women and black people especially, are even more exploited by industry than they are already.
This materialist mentality is affecting all areas of our lives, with giant conglomerates dominating the marketplace, allowing little or no room for people to create genuine choices. But alternatives do exist, and many are gathering support every day from eople rejecting big business in favour of small-scale self-organisation and co-operation.
The point is not to change McDonald's into some sort of vegetarian organisation, but to change the whole system itself. Anything less would still be a rip-off.
- STOP using McDonald's, Wimpy, etc., and tell your friends exactly why. These companies' huge profits - and therefore power to exploit - come from people just walking in off the street. It does make a difference what individuals do. Why wait for everyone else to wake up?
- * Research has shown that a large proportion of people who use fast-food places do so because they are there - not because they particularly like the food or feel hungry. This fact alone suggests that hamburgers are part of a giant con that people would avoid if they knew what to do. Unfortunately we tend to undervalue our personal responsibility and influence. This is wrong. All change in society starts from individuals taking the time to think about the way they live and acting on their belief. Movements are 'just ordinary people' linking together, one by one...
MAKE CONTACT, SHARE IDEAS
- YOU might not always hear about them, but there are many groups campaigning on the issues raised here - movements to support the struggles in the 'Third World', to fight for the rights of indigenous peoples, to protect rainforests, to oppose the killig of animals etc.Wherever there is oppression there is resistance: people are organising themselves, taking courage from the activities of ordinary, concerned people from all round the world, learning new ways and finding new energy to create a better life. The apathy of others is no reason to hang around waiting for someone to tell you what to 'do'. You need no special talents to join in your local pressure group, or start one up - existing groups will give information and advice if necessary.
- The World Wildlife Fund state that, if the rainforest continue to be cut down, the point of no return will be 15 to 25 years!!
I'm sure many people reading this had no idea that McDonald's were heavily involved in deforestation. Hopefully all of you are totally against with what McDonald's are doing to the rainforest. Then do something about it! McDonald's are now looking for a greener image and starting to clean up the damage they've done by asking for advice from the WWF. It's too late, the damage has been done and how many lies are we going to put up from these thugs. How many animals have never been discovered? How many animals are now extinct? How many fruits and medicines have been lost? How many times is McDonald's going to lie?