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'Toxic Taters' coalition puts petition drive online to cut down on pesticides

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The rural Minnesota and Park Rapids-based activist group Toxic Taters have formed an online petition.

The group is protesting excessive pesticide use by companies like RDO – and backed by companies like McDonald’s – that cause “pesticide drifts” onto nearby properties and communities. Pesticde drifting involves the unintentional drifting of pesticides, via the wind, onto nearby properties.

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According to their website, www.toxictaters.org, “Potato fields cover the landscape in central and northern Minnesota, stretching for miles in all directions. More than 45,000 acres of potatoes are planted in our state every year. Conventional potato production relies on pesticides that put the health of our communities at risk, and the people of Minnesota are calling for change. Almost all of the potatoes grown in our area are produced by a company called RDO. RDO is the largest potato producer in the world, and one of the major suppliers of the potatoes used for McDonald’s French fries.

McDonald’s claims that they foster sustainable agriculture, but we live near their potatoes, and we know that their practices aren’t sustainable.”

Through the online petition, the group is calling for both RDO and McDonald’s to change the ways in which they grow their potatoes and use pesticides.

According to the petition, “McDonald’s claims that their potatoes are produced sustainably, but rural residents in Minnesota know differently: pesticide drift from potato fields is a major problem. Hazardous pesticides applied to McDonalds’ potatoes may cause chronic health problems, damage nearby crops and livestock, and disrupt local ecosystems. Tell McDonald’s to do the right thing and transition to truly sustainable potato production.”

The petition also contained a letter sent to Donald Thompson, CEO of McDonald’s, from the group.

Part of the letter urges Thompson to make changes in McDonald’s practices, including for McDonald’s to “make its potato producers – like RDO – achieve measurable and significant decrease in their use of health-harming pesticides, set a standard requiring their potato producers to release information on the chemicals they apply to their crops, fund an independently-conducted public health study on impacted communities near potato producers, and insist that potato producers adopt environmentally sound sustainable agriculture practices.”

The petition can be found online at toxictaters.org.

Nick Longworth | Park Rapids Enterprise

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