McDonald’s & RDO potato fields still a threat to rural communities | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming

McDonald’s & RDO potato fields still a threat to rural communities

For immediate release: August 12, 2014 
Contact: Lex Horan, 651-245-1733,                
Bob Shimek, 218-204-1632,    

Park Rapids, MN - In recent months, RDO — the largest potato producer in the United States — has made several public statements about its initiatives to reduce pesticide use on Minnesota potato fields. In response to the Toxic Taters Campaign’s concerns about pesticide drift in rural communities, RDO’s recent statements have noted that the company has reduced pesticide applications on 13% of its Minnesota potato fields.    

While the Toxic Taters Coalition is supportive of any decreases in the use of hazardous pesticides in potato production, the Coalition is not satisfied with the steps that RDO has taken so far. Toxic Taters is continuing to seek four key changes from fast food giant McDonald’s and its potato suppliers, including RDO:        

  • Require that potato suppliers achieve measurable and significant decrease in use of health- harming pesticides.    
  • Require potato producers to release information on the chemicals they apply to their crops.   
  • Fund an independent human and ecological health study on the regions impacted by potato production.    
  • Ensure that potato producers adopt environmentally sound, sustainable agriculture practices.    

Bob Shimek, member of the Toxic Taters Coalition, released the following statement in response to RDO’s recent claims:    

“RDO’s recent publicity has given the impression that the company has made major steps to reduce pesticide use. In fact, it seems that RDO is sending the message that the issue of pesticide drift is fully resolved. But many of the changes that are most important to the Toxic Taters Coalition haven’t taken place.    

The Toxic Taters Coalition is continuing to call on RDO and McDonald’s to exercise full transparency about the chemicals being applied in our communities. Although RDO has given its word that pesticide use has decreased in some acres of potato production, this falls short of what Toxic Taters is calling for: pesticide reduction on all potato acres, full transparency, a human and ecological health study, and long-term collaboration with a mutually-agreed upon third-party certifier to ensure a transition to more sustainable practices. Until RDO and McDonald’s make these changes, Toxic Taters will continue to speak out and demand solutions to the problems of pesticide drift in our air, land, water, and communities.”

The Toxic Taters Coalition is a network of rural residents from Central Minnesota, backed by several national nonprofit organizations including Pesticide Action Network, the Indigenous Environmental Network and Food and Water Watch. The coalition is asking McDonald’s to require that its potato suppliers — like RDO — achieve measurable and significant decreases in the use of health-harming pesticides, to release information on the chemicals their producers apply to their crops, and to ensure that its potato producers adopt environmentally sound agricultural practices.

Additional Resources
MN Drift Report
McDonald’s Sustainability Report