Industry News | March 31, 2009

McDonald's Agrees to Look into Using Lower-Pesticide Potatoes

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Responding to shareholder concerns, McDonald’s Corporation has agreed to formally survey and promote best practices in pesticide use reduction within its American potato supply chain. As the largest buyer of potatoes in the U.S., McDonald’s commitment will support progress on this important issue, which affects the environment, public health, and farm employees.

This agreement led to the withdrawal of a shareholder resolution filed by the Bard College Endowment, Newground Social Investment, and the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund. This was the first shareholder resolution focused on environmental and worker health issues ever to be filed by a college or university endowment.

Through this agreement, McDonald’s has committed to: (1) survey its current U.S. potato suppliers; (2) 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 (3) communicate findings related to best practices to shareholders, and in the company’s annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) report.

The agreement was developed in collaboration between shareholders and McDonald’s, with support from the Investor Environmental Health Network. The agreement between McDonald’s and shareholders can be found on the SEC Web site.

Bard College student Katherine Burstein, a member of the college’s Committee on Investor Responsibility, says: "The Bard community believes that colleges and universities can leverage their power as investors for positive social change. Through our work with the Responsible Endowments Coalition, which works on responsible investment issues with colleges and universities across the nation, we learned about the measures companies can take to reduce the undesirable effects of pesticide use, and decided to engage McDonald's on the issue.”

Newground Social Investment CEO Bruce Herbert, a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Children’s Environmental Health, says: “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.”