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General Mills Moves Away From Rainforest Destruction

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Benchmark policy signals emerging trend away from controversial palm oil
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Minneapolis, Minn. – America’s favorite food company, General Mills (GIS), is taking a crucial step to protect rainforests today, with the release of a new palm oil policy that limits the company’s exposure to an increasingly controversial commodity. The company’s new policy, along with previous actions to move away from problematic suppliers like Sinar Mas Group, puts them in the front of efforts by the U.S. food sector to address deforestation resulting from palm oil. Kraft and Burger King have also announced initial steps to ensure that they are not sourcing ingredients that damage the rainforest.  

The new palm oil procurement policy includes specific commitments on critical issues including respect for the rights of Indigenous communities, prevention of further destruction of endangered rainforests and protection of peatlands, a major source of climate change causing emissions from palm oil production. In addition, General Mills has set a goal of “sourcing 100 percent responsible and sustainable palm oil” by 2015, setting a new bar for the American food industry.

General Mills’ full policy can be found at: http://www.generalmills.com/Responsibility/Sourcing/palm_oil_statement.aspx

“Rainforest destruction is not an acceptable ingredient in America’s food supply,” said Ashley Schaeffer of Rainforest Action Network (RAN), “We hope that General Mills’ actions will serve as a wake-up call for others in the food industry.”   

With General Mills’ adoption of its new policy, RAN is ending its campaign, confirming General Mills leadership in the growing corporate effort to move away from controversial palm oil in the United States. As a company with some of the most beloved brands in the nation, including Cheerios, Betty Crocker and Hamburger Helper, General Mills’ decision to address deforestation in its supply chain is a major industry signal that unsustainable palm oil expansion practices are a problem that can and should be addressed. RAN will continue working with General Mills on the ongoing implementation of the new policy.

 “Our work with environmental organizations, including Rainforest Action Network, helped focus us on this important issue,” said Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer of General Mills in a press statement also released today. “By addressing it very directly in a publicly stated policy, we hope to provide leadership with peers and with our suppliers on the need to source palm oil in an environmentally and socially responsible way.”

General Mills’ full press statement can be found at: http://www.generalmills.com/Media/NewsReleases/Library/2010/September/pa...

Along with the actions of other U.S and multinational food companies, General Mills’ new policy demonstrates that there is an increasing demand for sustainable palm oil in the U.S. marketplace.

“America’s largest importer of palm oil, Cargill, has yet to take sufficient action to meet this demand or to clean up its own palm oil supply chain,” continued Schaeffer of RAN. “Although the agribusiness giant has taken initial steps to do so in Europe, it has failed to bring RSPO certified segregated palm oil to the United States, and it continues to source palm oil from some of the worst suppliers in the business.”

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 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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