Environmental expert - specialising in Latin America and Costa Rica
It appears that up to 1988, Mcdonald's were using beef from land that had been deforested as recently as 10 years before that date.
This was ecologically irresponsible behaviour given that the rate of deforestation in Costa Rica during the 1960s and 1970s was among the highest in Latin America, and that much of the deforestation was taking place for the purpose of clearing land for pasture.
Available for this witness
I have now seen documents containing statements by Raymond M.Cesea, David Rose, Luis Jimenez, Juan Sequeira and a representative of the Coopemonetecillos of Costa Rica, and on the basis of this evidence, I wish to enter this supplementary statement about the McDonald's Case:
- It appears that up to 1988, Mcdonald's were using beef from land that had been deforested as recently as 10 years before that date.
- This was ecologically irresponsible behaviour given that the rate of deforestation in Costa Rica during the 1960s and 1970s was among the highest in Latin America, and that much of the deforestation was taking place for the purpose of clearing land for pasture.
- Many ecologists including the undersigned, consider that Costa Rica has been deforested to unacceptable levels in the past 30 years and that all efforts should go into reforesting much of the pasture land that was covered in humid forest before the 1960s.
- If this goal is to be taken seriously, then McDonald's new policy of not purchasing beef from land that was deforested 25 or more years ago, is equally inadequate: no beef pastured on land that was deforested during the period of unbridled forest clearance of the 1960s and after should be purchased by responsible companies.
December 11th, 1993
Further to my first supplementary statement on the McDonald Corporation and Costa Rican deforestation, I wish to add the following:
- I have read the supplementary statement by David Rose, dated by hand December 7 1993; I believe that there can be no interpretation of this statement other than that land that was still forested in the mid-1970s could have been used in the 1980s to pasture animals purchased by the McDonald Corporation.
- As I discuss in an article published in the academic journal New Political Science, Fall/ winter 1990, the process of deforestation takes place in at least six stages, usually involves logging companies, small farmers and finally large cattle ranchers, and can take well over ten years. Indeed in some parts of the country, deforested land would not be available for pasture for a decade or more after clearance. A photocopy of the relevant section of the article is enclosed as Annex A.
- In the same article (see Annex A again), I argue that "Beginning in the 1970s, annual rates of forest loss began to rise due to pasture expansion and other pressures, and by the early 1980s, the country was losing nearly four percent of its forests every year, the highest rate in the Western hemisphere including the Amazonian Basin."
- In view of the above, it is clear to me that McDonald's "ten year policy": a) could have constituted a clear incentive to small farmers to clear forest land in the expectation that it would, at a later stage, be purchased by agents assembling land for established ranchers: b) may have allowed the company, at least until 1988, to purchase beef grown on land that had been cleared at the height of the deforestation frenzy of the late 1970s when the rate of Costa Rican deforestation was among the highest in the world.
- The notion of "established ranches" deserves clarification. In some areas - Guanacaste or San Carlos for example - it is possible to put cattle on the land for decades without harming the topsoil. However where, during the 1960s and 1970s, ranches were set up in areas that had been tropical moist forest, the topsoil often became rapidly degraded and further forest to pasture conversion was usually required to maintain expected levels of beef production. Such "established ranches" thus became a continuous threat to the tropical moist forest environment. Thus a statement to the effect that beef was purchased from "established ranches" does not provide a guarantee that such purchases did not contribute to deforestation.
- In view of the facts of this case as they are known to me, I believe that reasonable members of a jury would conclude that the company showed little sensitivity to the problem of Costa Rican deforestation, and that the ten year policy could constitute an incentive to small farmers to clear forest land.
- To establish the academic credibility of the article from which the appended extracts were taken, I wish to state that in addition to the journal, New Political Science, mentioned above, it was also published in the prestigious International Journal of Political Economy (New York) and in a book edited by David Goodman and Michael Redclift, Environment and Development in Latin America (University of Manchester Press), 1990.
November 1st 1993
references: Not applicable/ available
Appeared in court
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