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McLibel Support Campaign
P R E S S . R E L E A S E . 04/09/01
CALL FOR ACTION ON TUESDAY OCTOBER 16th - WORLDWIDE ANTI-McDONALD'S DAY
The 17th annual Worldwide Anti-McDonald's Day will be on Tues October 16th [UN World Food Day] - a protest against the promotion of junk food, the unethical targeting of children, exploitation of workers, animal cruelty, damage to the environment and the global domination of corporations over our lives. Last year, as always there were local protests all around the globe, involving most of the countries where there have been regular events in the past - of particular note were the widespread and large protests throughout Italy (eg at one store in Rome 300 demonstrators succeeded in getting it closed for the day). But last year also included demonstrations in Hawaii, Hong Kong, Phillipines and Colombia. As part of the global protests, there were also some events on Oct 12th - an annual day of solidarity with McDonald's workers.
[In 1999 we monitored where the protests took place - we heard of 425 protests and pickets in 345 towns in 23 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, USA]. Over 3 million leaflets have now been handed out in the UK alone since 1990 (when the McDonald's Corporation served libel writs aiming to suppress the London Greenpeace leafletting campaign) and it is now distributed worldwide.
WHY NOT ORGANISE PICKETS IN YOUR TOWN ANY TIME? Please copy the 'What's Wrong With McDonald's??' leaflet [see copy below or click on link to see it on the site]
Despite its strenuous efforts, McDonald's is widely despised, and its 'reputation' - along with that of the food industry in general - continues to sink ever further.
As well as the mass distribution of leaflets by thousands of local activists around the world the global campaign against McDonald's has continued to grow over the last couple of years:
- many determined residents' campaigns against new stores, including a successful 552-day occupation of a proposed McDonald's site by residents of Hinchley Wood, S.E. England
- mass anti-McDonald's protests by french farmers, including a 30,000-strong demo
- new efforts by McDonald's workers to organise together to stand up to their bosses (eg. in the UK, France, Russia and Canada)
- protests at the Sydney 2000 Olympics against McDonald's mass use of refrigeration chemicals linked to global warming
- a wave of complaints calling for a ban on their advertising to children
- protests throughout the US and elsewhere focusing on the cruelty suffered by chickens raised for McDonald's products
- growing concern throughout Europe and the US about the threat to human health posed by beef-related diseases (such as BSE) and genetically-modified animal feed
- McDonald's increasingly identified by a wide range of protestors worldwide as a symbol of modern capitalism
- recent fall in their global profits and corporate plans to close 250 stores
And there's been continuing bad publicity for the Corporation as a result of the McLibel case, the longest in english history - including the collapse of McDonald's censorship attempts and some damning legal rulings against the company: exploiting children with their advertising strategy, deceiving consumers by claiming their food is nutritious, promoting food linked to a greater risk of heart disease, paying low wages and being responsible for animal cruelty.
The McLibel defendants, Helen Steel and Dave Morris are currently taking the British Government to the European Court of Human Rights over oppressive and unfair UK libel laws.
- McLibel Support Campaign
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McDonald's spend well over $2 billion every year worldwide on advertising and promotions, trying to cultivate an image of being a 'caring' and 'green' company that is also a fun place to eat. Children are lured in (dragging their parents behind them) with the promise of toys and other gimmicks. But behind the smiling face of Ronald McDonald lies the reality - McDonald's only interest is money, making profits from whoever and whatever they can, just like all multinational companies. McDonald's Annual Reports talk of 'Global Domination' - they aim to open more and more stores across the globe - but their continual worldwide expansion means more uniformity, less choice and the undermining of local communities.
PROMOTING UNHEALTHY FOOD McDonald's promote their food as 'nutritious', but the reality is that it is junk food - high in fat, sugar and salt, and low in fibre and vitamins. A diet of this type is linked with a greater risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases. Their food also contains many chemical additives, some of which may cause ill-health, and hyperactivity in children. Don't forget too that meat is the cause of the majority of food poisoning incidents. In 1991 McDonald's were responsible for an outbreak of food poisoning in the UK, in which people suffered serious kidney failure. With modern intensive farming methods, other diseases - linked to chemical residues or unnatural practices - have become a danger to people too (such as BSE).
EXPLOITING WORKERS Workers in the fast food industry are paid low wages. McDonald's do not pay overtime rates even when employees work very long hours. Pressure to keep profits high and wage costs low results in understaffing, so staff have to work harder and faster. As a consequence, accidents (particularly burns) are common. The majority of employees are people who have few job options and so are forced to accept this exploitation, and they're compelled to 'smile' too! Not surprisingly staff turnover at McDonald's is high, making it virtually impossible to unionise and fight for a better deal, which suits McDonald's who have always been opposed to Unions.
ROBBING THE POOR Vast areas of land in poor countries are used for cash crops or for cattle ranching, or to grow grain to feed animals to be eaten in the West. This is at the expense of local food needs. McDonald's continually promote meat products, encouraging people to eat meat more often, which wastes more and more food resources. 7 million tons of grain fed to livestock produces only 1 million tons of meat and by-products. On a plant-based diet and with land shared fairly, almost every region could be self-sufficient in food.
DAMAGING THE ENVIRONMENT Forests throughout the world - vital for all life - are being destroyed at an appalling rate by multinational companies. McDonald's have at last been forced to admit to using beef reared on ex-rainforest land, preventing its regeneration. Also, the use of farmland by multinationals and their suppliers forces local people to move on to other areas and cut down further trees.
McDonald's are the world's largest user of beef. Methane emitted by cattle reared for the beef industry is a major contributor to the 'global warming' crisis. Modern intensive agriculture is based on the heavy use of chemicals which are damaging to the environment. Every year McDonald's use thousands of tons of unnecessary packaging, most of which ends up littering our streets or polluting the land buried in landfill sites.
MURDERING ANIMALS The menus of the burger chains are based on the torture and murder of millions of animals. Most are intensively farmed, with no access to fresh air and sunshine, and no freedom of movement. Their deaths are barbaric - 'humane slaughter' is a myth. We have the choice to eat meat or not, but the billions of animals massacred for food each year have no choice at all.
CENSORSHIP and McLIBEL Criticism of McDonald's has come from a huge number of people and organisations over a wide range of issues. In the mid-1980's, London Greenpeace drew together many of those strands of criticism and called for an annual World Day of Action against McDonald's. This takes place every year on 16th October, with pickets and demonstrations all over the world.
McDonald's, who spend a fortune every year on advertising, tried and failed to silence world-wide criticism by threatening legal action. Many were forced to back down because they lacked the money to fight a case. But Helen Steel and Dave Morris, two supporters of London Greenpeace, defended themselves in a major UK High Court libel trial. Despite all the cards being stacked against them, denied Legal Aid and a jury trial, Helen and Dave turned the tables and exposed the truth by putting McDonald's business practices on trial. Some damning judgments were made against McDonald's and protests against the $40 billion a year fast-food giant continue to grow. It's vital to stand up to intimidation and to defend free speech.
WHAT YOU CAN DO - Together we can fight back against the institutions and the people in power who dominate our lives and our planet, and we can create a better society without exploitation. Workers can and do organise together to fight for their rights and dignity. People are increasingly aware of the need to think seriously about the food we and our children eat. People in poor countries are organising themselves to stand up to multinationals and banks which dominate the world's economy. Environmental and animal rights protests and campaigns are growing everywhere. Why not join in the struggle for a better world. Talk to friends and family, neighbours and workmates about these issues. Please copy and circulate this leaflet as widely as you can.
Further information: www.mcspotlight.org