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Toxic Taters asks McDonald's CEO to visit, discuss lower pesticide use on Minnesota potatoes

It's been a year since McDonald's launched its all day breakfast menu on Oct. 6, 2015 and 18 months since Steve Easterbrook has taken the helm as CEO of the company. Easterbrook has made a lot of changes. He's getting them to toast their bread longer, use real butter, find better meat sources. He's even moving the company headquarters to a nicer place in Chicago.

People in northern Minnesota are asking why, with all these changes, is he still letting people get sick and die from the pesticides coming off the potato fields that grow his french fries? In 2009, McDonald's made the promise to cut the use of pesticides on their potatoes. We're continuing to wait for them to fulfill that promise.

Northern Minnesota is the source of the mighty Mississippi; a traveler's haven of lakes, forests, and small towns; and the place where the Ojibwe people were guided to settle because it was where the food, wild rice, grows on water. This place is also in danger. McDonald's can play a major role in changing that.

Mr. Easterbrook has announced that McDonald's will be moving to using cage-free eggs over the upcoming decade. They've also cut out some antibiotics. Those are positive steps.

However, here in Mississippi River Watershed, RD Offutt, the largest potato grower in the US and supplier to McDonald's, continues to spray pesticides weekly on their spuds with helicopters, not to mention the additional chemicals added through their irrigation systems and ground applications.

The problems with those pesticides start here. Our babies are put at risk of blue baby syndrome because of the high level of nitrates in the water. Our school children have developmental disabilities and academic needs that are consistently higher than the state average. We face the illnesses that come with exposure; neurodevelopmental disorders and diseases, cancers, and the list goes on.

We're sick of getting sick.

Mr. Easterbrook, we, the Toxic Taters organization, are asking you and McDonald's leadership, publicly, to meet with us, to learn about what's happening to the people who live around the potato fields that grow your french fries.

We're asking you to call on RD Offutt and your other growers to:

Make public what chemicals are being used on their potato fields

Cut their use of pesticides.

Fund studies to understand the human and ecological health effects on the communities surrounding the fields.

Farm sustainably everywhere they farm.

We look forward to your response.—Amy S. Mondloch, Callaway

(Amy Mondloch is coordinator of Toxic Taters)