Girl Scout cookies seem innocent enough. Besides the sugar and calories, what harm could they possibly cause? Quite a bit it turns out. Girl Scout cookies use a whole lot of palm oil, the controversial ingredient that is inextricably linked to rainforest destruction, violations of Indigenous rights, and the extinction of endangered species like orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinoceros.
Palm oil is what companies often use to replace more unhealthy oils like canola. But harvesting palm oil can get nasty--companies plow through wilderness to get at the oil, displacing endangered wildlife including pygmy elephants, orangutans and Sumatran tigers along the way. In the past, companies that buy palm oil have turned a blind eye to the practices of the industry. This includes the Girl Scouts. The non-profit's famous cookies are made with the stuff, much to the chagrin of two hard-charging Scouts, Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva.
Girl Scouts Rhiannon Tomtishen, left, and Madison Vorva, both of Ann Arbor, have been campaigning to raise awareness of the human and environmental impact of the organization's famous cookies.
“Kids should not have to choose between selling cookies and getting to camp or choosing rainforest deforestation and orangutan extinction. There are links to slave labor as well,” Vorva said. “There should be no human rights abuses occurring in Girl Scout cookies either.”
Girl Scout cookie lovers, beware. Because of palm oil, a key ingredient, those delicious and addictive treats may not be as innocent as they seem. Not only is the ingredient linked to child labor in Indonesia, but it also allegedly contributes to rainforest deforestation. But now two renegade girl scouts are lobbying the Girl Scouts of America to remove the ingredient from the cookies.
San Francisco, CA - Responding to a land dispute grievance filed by the Indigenous community of Long Teran Kenan and allies including Rainforest Action Network, against palm oil giant IOI Group, the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has ruled that IOI is in breach of the RSPO Code of Conduct. The decision is available in its entirety here:
San Francisco, CA—Days before the President of Indonesia is expected to sign a moratorium on the expansion of logging on new pulp, paper and palm oil concessions, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has warned leading consumer companies and investors of potential shortcomings in the moratorium. A Briefing Note about the moratorium was sent to almost 100 companies including Bank of America, General Mills, Target, Staples, Gucci Group, Office Depot, Scholastic, Levi’s, Safeway, and other leading brands.