Thursday, January 28, 2010

General Mills Responds to Rainforest Action Network Campaign

As reported yesterday, the environmental activist group Rainforest Action Network launched a campaign against the company General Mills for using palm oil, the production of which results in rainforest destruction, in many of their product lines.

General Mills was quick to respond and clarify that they only use a modest amount of palm oil and palm oil derivatives in their products, and that they have engaged their suppliers, which are all members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO); and will only purchase from suppliers who meet RSPO principles and criteria.

It is also reassuring that General Mills publicly supports a moratorium on palm oil expansion in tropical rainforests. Unfortunately, their palm oil supplier, Cargill, does not. In Cargill’s recently updated “Palm Oil Commitments”, Cargill commits to no expansion into high conservation value forests (HCVF) or peatlands and only expand on “degraded land”. As the largest importer of palm oil into the United States, Cargill should expand their commitment by supporting a moratorium on palm oil expansion in Southest Asia as other companies have already done. It is hoped that General Mills can convince Cargill to support a moratorium.

General Mills should not only meet RSPO principles and criteria, but exceed that criteria, and certainly should not continue to do business with a supplier such as Cargill, who is not strongly committed to stopping rainforest construction.

To learn more about socially and environmentally responsible palm oil, check out our reccommendations for market leaders and our model policy at

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

General Mills Linked to Rainforest Destruction

Taken from

1/19/2010 - The activist activist group Rainforest Action Network (RAN) linked General Mills to destruction of rainforests in Southeast Asia in dramatic fashion on Tuesday, when it unfurled a giant banner, reading "Warning: General Mills Destroys Rainforests", outside the company's Minneapolis headquarters building. The stunt was executed to highlight the role that palm oil consumption has in deforestation in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Expansion of oil palm plantations over the past twenty years has emerged as one of the biggest threats to the Southeast Asia's rainforests, which house such endangered species as the orangutan, the pygmy elephant of Borneo, and the Sumatran rhino. Palm oil production has also become a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, which result from deforestation, degradation and conversion of peatlands, and fires set for plantation establishment.

RAN says that at least a hundred General Mills products, including goods sold under Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Stovetop Hamburger Helper and Toaster Strudel brands, contain palm oil or palm oil derivatives. RAN is calling for General Mills to commit to buying only responsibly-sourced palm oil.

"General Mills could do a lot to transform the palm oil supply in the food industry and to protect rainforests, communities and the climate," said Madeline Gardner, Minneapolis-based activist, in a statement. "As an industry leader and a trusted brand, General Mills could have a huge impact in changing the food industry for good."

Unilever, the world's largest corporate buyer of palm oil, has already committed to using only palm oil produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. Last month the company severed ties with Sinar Mas after an investigation showed that the palm oil producer was clearing rainforests and draining peatlands. In its campaign, dubbed The Problem with Palm Oil, RAN argues that General Mills and other companies face a risk of consumer backlash if they continues current sourcing policies. "Palm oil is a leading cause of rainforest destruction in places like Indonesia," said Ashley Schaeffer of Rainforest Action Network. "As long as General Mills is using irresponsibly sourced palm oil, their customers will have to worry that they are contributing money to rainforest destruction."

Monday, January 4, 2010

A quote to inspire for 2010

"If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it."

– President Lyndon B. Johnson, on the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964

Update on the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act

Back in October we reported that the House Natural Resources Committee was about to consider HR 2213, a bill sponsored by Ron Kind (D-WI) that would more than triple funding for the Neotropical Migratory Bird Act.

In response to the call of thousands of Audubon activists, the Senate has acted on this $20 million package for bird conservation and the House Natural Resources Committee passed a similar bill with a $15 million funding level. It is expected to get to the President's desk in the next session of Congress. Final passage will be good news for the more than 125 neotropical species in decline from habitat loss and other threats.

So stay tuned!