General Mills Takes Bold Steps Away from Palm Oil Controversy

America’s Favorite Food Company Leads the Food Industry Away From Rainforest Destruction

Today, General Mills announced a comprehensive palm oil policy that puts them at the front of the pack when it comes to American companies addressing the problems with palm oil.

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 palm oil is a problem that can and should be addressed.

The company’s new policy respects Indigenous rights, protects rainforests and peatlands and sets a goal for sourcing 100 percent environmentally responsible palm oil by 2015.

The move was catalyzed by  Rainforest Action Network’s Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign, whose campaign has been focused on stopping the destruction of rainforests for palm oil plantations since 2007. RAN began focusing on General Mills as a key actor in January of this year, when we deployed a huge banner on their front lawn reading “Warning! General Mills Destroys Rainforests!”.  View a slideshow of key moments in the campaign.

Since then, we’ve engaged hundreds of thousands of people mostly in North America but also in 20 countries around the world through the General Mills palm oil campaign. We’ve hosted three palm oil weeks of action at grocery stores, publicly pressured corporate executives at events, and held several delivery events at the company’s Minneapolis HQ with our local RAN-Twin Cities chapters and concerned Cheerios-loving children.

This policy marks a huge milestone for both Indonesia’s rainforests and our grassroots supporters.

General Mills’ benchmark policy also signals an emerging U.S. food company trend away from controversial palm oil and towards real corporate social responsibility. “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.” Read General Mills’ full press statement.

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. However, 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. 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. The Agribusiness campaign will continue to pressure Cargill directly as well as other Cargill palm oil customers to follow General Mills’ lead.

RAN will continue working with General Mills on the ongoing implementation of the new policy as well as continuing our work to get rainforest destroying palm oil out of America’s supply chain. Cargill – that means you!

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After fighting for the return of their ancestral lands for more than a decade, the people of Long Teran Kenan in Malaysian Borneo took a stand earlier this year and reclaimed part of their homeland with a decisive and peaceful act of collective resistance. Their territory had been taken from them and converted into oil palm plantations, which are now owned by the notorious global palm oil giant IOI Group.
Agribusiness and its impacts on the climate, rainforests, and communities