Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Animal rights group protests at MUFSO

The Humane Society of the U.S. tried during the MUFSO conference in Orlando to strong-arm Red Lobster into helping the Society's cause, calling via pickets and airplane banners for a consumer boycott of the chain until it agrees to cooperate. Apparently by design, the teacup-sized tempest coincided with the appearance on the stage of Red Lobster's longtime guiding force, Joe Lee, who was being recognized for his leadership of parent company Darden Restaurants.

It was unclear why the Society chose to push the boycott to an audience of restaurant-chain leaders instead of consumers. The group wants customers to stop frequenting Red Lobster until the chain pressures seafood suppliers in Canada to stop killing seals. "Say NO to Red Lobster until they say NO to the seal hunt," said an ad placed by the group in the issue of USA Today that was published on the last day of the convention. The paper was delivered to attendees' rooms that morning. During the meeting, some participants observed that comparatively little seafood is bought by U.S. chains from the waters of the northern Pacific, where the seals are hunted.

The protestors' decision to demonstrate before a gathering of restaurant-chain executives might have been a veiled threat: Work with us or you, too, could find yourself the target of a boycott.

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