A five-year campaign by two Michigan girls to make Girl Scout cookies more environmentally friendly has prompted the youth organization to curb the use of palm oil in its iconic baked goods.
Girl Scouts of the USA isn't eliminating the ingredient, but it says that beginning with the 2012-13 cookie season, each box will include a GreenPalm logo as a symbol of Girl Scouts' commitment to address concerns about the deforestation of sensitive lands caused by production of palm oil.
Environmentalists say the illegal clearing of rainforests in Southeast Asia to make room for palm oil plantations has pushed the orangutan to the brink of extinction and threatens other native animals.
In its announcement Wednesday, the Girl Scouts said it has directed its bakers to use as little palm oil as possible, and only in recipes where there is no alternative. It wants its bakers to move to a segregated, certified sustainable palm oil source by 2015.
The Scouts will buy GreenPalm certificates to support the sustainable production of palm oil. The certificates offer a premium price to palm oil producers who are operating within best-practices guidelines set by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, an organization of palm oil producers, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, environmentalists and others.
Girl Scouts of the USA will also become an affiliate member of the roundtable.
The teen activists and environmentalists welcomed the announcement as a good first step, but said much more needs to be done.
"The production of palm oil is causing some of the world's most precious rainforests to disappear faster than a box of Thin Mints," said Lindsey Allen, forest campaign director for the Rainforest Action Network.
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