April 9, 2009 The Pump Handle 0Comment

McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of potatoes in this country, so anything it does to reduce the use of pesticides on these crops will have a big impact on potato workers (as well as the environment). Thanks to pressure from shareholder advocates, McDonald’s has now 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.

McDonald’s shareholders the Bard College Endowment, Newground Social Investment, and the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund filed a shareholder resolution that, according to Reuters’ Lisa Baertlein, “would have required the company to publish a report on options for cutting pesticide use in its supply chain.” If the resolution hadn’t been withdrawn, it would have come up for a vote at the next McDonald’s shareholder meeting. Instead, the investor advocates and McDonald’s management met and, with the help of Investor Environmental Health Network, came to an agreement about steps the company would take toward reducing the use of pesticides in its potato supply.

In other news:

New York Times: The families of two workers who died in last year’s New York crane collapse have filed lawsuits, and their lawyers have turned up messages in which a company hired to repair a critical crane component warned the crane owner that it doubted its ability to do the necessary welding correctly.

Washington Post: More problems with asbestos in Smithsonian buildings arise – this time, at the National Museum of American History.

Medscape Medical News: A recent pilot study identified ingredients in hospital cleaning products that might affect workers health through inhalation and dermal exposure, and assessed the potential for exposure during cleaning tasks performed in hospitals.

Environmental Health News: Women of nonwhite origin who worked at a capacitor manufacturing plant between the 1930s and late 1970s had an increased risk of breast with higher levels of PCB exposure; researchers didn’t find the same risk in white women.

Today’s Zaman (Turkey): Turkey’s health ministry has banned manual sandblasting of denim fabric, after hundreds of workers have developed silicosis.

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