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Activists Drop Banner on Grain Exchange Skyway to Call out Cargill

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Hometown giant remains under pressure to stop destroying rainforests
Thursday, September 23, 2010

Contacts: Margaret Swink, 415.720.0080
               Ashley Schaeffer, 707 391 8208 (on the ground in MN)

Free downloadable photos and b-roll available.

Minneapolis, Minn. – Five activists with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) hung billboard sized banners off of a 3rd Street South skyway (between 4th and 5th Ave South) during morning rush hour today, protesting Cargill’s continuing refusal to address its role in the destruction of some of the world’s last remaining rainforests. Reading: “Cargill: #1 Supplier of Rainforest Destruction,” the banners were clearly visible from Cargill’s downtown office in the Grain Exchange.
 
As a result of the action, police and fire trucks arrived on the scene and shut down 3rd Street South for almost an hour and a half. All five activists were arrested.

“Cargill is the largest importer of palm oil into the United States, and they sell to almost everyone,” said local activist Willow Cordes-Eklund, who participated in today’s protest. “It’s unacceptable that they are continuing to buy and trade palm oil from companies like PT SMART who have been formally sanctioned by the industry for rainforest destruction. Cargill can and should take action now to protect the world’s remaining rainforests.”
 
Cargill has been under fire for its palm oil supply chain for over two years. Although the company has recently taken steps to assess its own plantations and supply chain, Cargill has brushed off promises to cancel from PT SMART (Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology), a supplier frequently pointed to as one of the worst palm oil companies. SMART has been documented clearing and burning rainforests, forcing communities from their lands and destroying peatlands, carbon intensive landscapes whose destruction is widely considered to be some of the worst contributors to climate change. SMART was censored this morning by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil for “serious non-compliance.”
 
Cargill’s refusal to act is all the more surprising as major American companies make public commitments to stop buying palm oil from suppliers like SMART and set ambitious goals to source responsibly produced palm oil. Although Cargill has made some initial steps towards the provision of segregated RSPO certified palm oil in Europe, it has failed to do so in the U.S., ignoring the requests of its customers and consumers.
 
“Americans want to see palm oil that isn’t destroying rainforests or orangutans,” said Ashley Schaeffer of RAN. “Cargill is flat out failing to meet the growing demand to put in standards to protect rainforests.”
 
Palm oil is one of the most commonly found ingredients in thousands of consumer products, from soap and lipstick, to breakfast cereal and soymilk. Its use is widespread and increasing around the world, including the U.S, where its consumption has tripled in the last five years. Palm oil has been tightly linked to the destruction of some of the world’s most endangered rainforest. Expanding consumption has triggered expanded production, replacing rainforests with palm oil plantations and endangering unique species including orangutans and sun bears.
 
RAN has been running market campaigns to reduce the impact of American purchases of palm oil on the Indonesian rainforest since 2007. More information on RAN’s palm oil campaigns can be found at http://www.theproblemwithpalmoil.org

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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org

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