Girl Scouts Activists, Rainforest Action Network and Union of Concerned Scientists Respond to Palm Oil Cookie Announcement by Girl Scouts USA

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Contact:
Laurel Sutherlin 415.246.0161 laurel@ran.org

Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, the two Girl Scouts that have been leading the effort to make Girl Scout cookies deforestation free, issued the following statement in reaction to Girl Scouts USA announcement that it will purchase Green Palm certificates and work towards the use of RSPO-certified palm oil by 2015, as well as work to reduce the amount of palm oil used in its cookies. They are available for interviews. 

"We hope that today's announcement shows that Girl Scouts USA is serious about ensuring that their cookies don't destroy forests or endanger orangutans and other wildlife, and that they'll strongly urge their bakers to find an alternative oil that is both rainforest-safe and socially responsible. As a non-profit organization, not a food company, there should be no question that Girl Scout Cookies contain ingredients that live up to the values described in the Girl Scout Law. We look forward to continuing to work with Girl Scouts USA to become a real leader in protecting forests and wildlife." said Madison Vorva.

"Girl Scouts USA deserves credit for recognizing the role the palm oil in their cookies plays in driving deforestation, and for taking initial action to address it. Purchasing GreenPalm certificates and working towards segregated, certified sustainable palm oil by 2015 are steps in the right direction. However, the most important part of their policy is the commitment to use palm oil only if there is no alternative. We hope to work closely with the Girl Scouts and experts to find such an alternative. Despite the small amount of palm oil used for Girl Scout Cookies, Girl Scouts USA has the opportunity to use their presence to educate consumers and youth about this issue, as well as to encourage other companies to move towards deforestation free products." said Rhiannon Tomtishen.

Experts responded to the announcement:

Lindsey Allen, Forest Campaign Director, Rainforest Action Network: "The production of palm oil is causing some of the world's most precious rainforests to disappear faster than a box of Thin Mints. Today's announcement by Girl Scouts USA is a testament to the years of amazing activism by Girl Scouts Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen. Unfortunately, nothing in today's statement ensures that palm oil connected to rainforest destruction will no longer be found in Girl Scout cookies. Rainforest Action Network calls on Girl Scouts USA to demand that their suppliers, like Cargill, institute basic safeguards that guarantee species extinction and human rights abuses will no longer be tolerated as byproducts of palm oil production."

Sarah Roquemore, Union of Concerned Scientists: “We’re happy to see the Girl Scouts USA acknowledging the seriousness of palm oil’s effect on deforestation. While we applaud this initial announcement, they are still many steps away from ensuring that their cookies are not driving deforestation. The Union of Concerned Scientists welcomes the opportunity to engage with the Girl Scouts USA and work with a coalition of respected environmental organizations to improve the sustainability standards for palm oil.”

Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, now 15 and 16, initially launched their effort to make Girl Scout cookies deforestation four years ago when they learned about how orangutans and other wildlife were being pushed to the brink of extinction by rainforest clearing for palm oil plantations - and that palm oil is a key ingredient in Girl Scout cookies. Since then, they've been working to make Girl Scouts USA a true leader in environmental conservation and have appeared on the front pages of major national newspapers and on top network television shows including The Wall Street Journal, CBS Early Show, ABC World News Tonight, NPR's Morning Edition, and many others. They will receive the Brower Youth Award for their work this fall.

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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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