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There is an Associated Press story that seems to be in almost every paper this morning about how People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is attempting to influence the animal rights debate - by becoming a shareholder in the very companies that it criticizes.

According to the story, PETA “has been buying shares for seven years and now owns a piece of at least 80 companies, including McDonald's and Kraft Foods. It hopes to influence their animal welfare policies on such things as how chickens are slaughtered or buying pork from suppliers that keep pregnant sows in small crates. By buying stock, PETA is guaranteed the right to present its ideas directly to officials and other shareholders, many of whom would otherwise would likely pay little attention to the group.”

Ashley Byrne, a senior campaigner for PETA, tells AP that “PETA tries to negotiate agreements with companies behind closed doors, but if that fails, the group submits shareholder resolutions with its proposed changes at shareholder meetings.

“Companies don't always change their policies, but Byrne said the effort has paid off. After PETA bought stock, Safeway grocery stores and restaurant companies Ruby Tuesday, Sonic and Burger King agreed to give purchasing preference to suppliers that abide by what the group says are more humane rules, such as not confining chicken and hogs in small cages, she said.”

However, AP writes, “Byrne said PETA's attempt to work from within companies didn't signal an end to its more visible, and often outrageous, protests aimed at improving the condition of animals and encouraging people to stop eating meat. Those events include PETA members stripping to protest the fur industry, nearly naked women taking showers on busy street corners to demonstrate the amount of water used to produce meat, and people squeezing into cages to focus attention on livestock confinement.”
KC's View:
PETA’s biggest problem is that the mainstream identifies it as being part of the fringe. I’m not sure if the nearly-naked women showering on street corners helps its image or hurts it. Probably depends on who the women are.