Since the issue of vegetarianism and meat has come up again, let me ask: has anyone been f

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Since the issue of vegetarianism and meat has come up again, let me ask: has anyone been following the McDonald's libel case in England? McDonald's is suing two environmental activists for distributing leaflets arguing for a boycott of McD's. The arguments range from labor practices to animal treatment to public health. The argument that I found both compelling and relevant to list discussion was their claim that McDonald's (and other fast food chains and commercial buyers of meat) practices are a major cause of starvation in the Third World. Here is the relevant excerpt from a longer version of the pamphlet. HUNGRY FOR DOLLARS McDonald's is one of several giant corporations with investments in vast tracts of land in poor countries, sold to them by the dollar-hungry rulers (often military) and privileged elites, evicting the small farmers that live there growing food for their own people. The power of the US dollar means that in order to buy technology and manufactured goods, poor countries are trapped into producing more and more food for export to the States. Out of 40 of the world's poorest countries, 36 export food to the USA - the wealthiest. ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM Some 'Third World' countries, where most children are undernourished, are actually exporting their staple crops as animal feed - i.e. to fatten cattle for turning into burgers in the 'First World'. Millions of acres of the best farmland in poor contries are being used for our benefit - for tea, coffee, tobacco, etc. - while people there are starving. McDonald's is directly involved in this economic imperialism, which keeps most black people poor and hungry while many whites grow fat. GROSS MISUSE OF RESOURCES Grain is fed to cattle in South American countries to produce the meat in McDonald's hamburgers. Cattle consume 10 times the amount of grain and soy that humans do: one calorie of beef demands ten calories of grain. Of the 145 million tons of grain and so fed to livestock, only 21 million tons of meat and by-products are used. The waste is 124 million tons per year at a value of 20 billion US dollars. It has been calculated that this sum would feed, clothe and house the world's entire population fo one year. Comments or corrections, anyone? BTW, the URL for a Web page on the McLibel case is: Both the original leaflet and the expanded version are available there, as well as other information about the case. Chris Hawkins


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