Setting the Record Straight: Rainforest Action Network Responds to Misleading Statements by HarperCollins and Media

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Friday, December 14, 2012

San Francisco, CA – A number of false and misleading statements by HarperCollins and members of the press have been made since Rainforest Action Network (RAN) released the results of independent forensic fiber tests on December 12, 2012. The lab tests showed that a number of HarperCollins’ popular books contained paper fiber connected to rainforest destruction. RAN is releasing this statement to clarify our position and set the record straight.

In the interests of complete transparency and clarity, RAN has compiled and made public a comprehensive, chronological record of our written communications with HarperCollins. This correspondence shows the disingenuous nature of statements attributed to HarperCollins that have appeared in various media outlets this week.

1) HarperCollins has stated in the press that RAN has had no communication with them about its paper policies.

This statement is a willful fabrication. Over the past two years, RAN has gone to great lengths to initiate a constructive dialog with HarperCollins. Our repeated requests to HarperCollins to verify the filters the company claims to have on its supply chains have been met with silence and the company has refused until now to make a public commitment not to purchase from controversial paper companies APP and APRIL.

2) In response to inquiries from the press, HarperCollins has repeatedly stated that RAN has refused to release the results of the laboratory fiber tests we commissioned.

This is not true. RAN communicated very clearly and directly to HarperCollins on the day we released the tests, that “RAN would be happy to share our test results with HarperCollins staff members who are responsible for and empowered to make changes to HarperCollins' paper policy, Indonesia commitments, and due diligence procedures based on our findings.” We received no further communication or willingness to engage in dialog from HarperCollins after sending this message.

3) HarperCollins has stated that they do not purchase from forest destroying paper companies APP and APRIL and that they stopped sourcing paper from controversial Indonesian fiber in February of this year.

This is the second time HarperCollins has claimed it has stopped sourcing from APP and APRIL. In a correspondence between RAN and HarperCollins in August 2011 the company told us it never worked with APRIL and made the decision to stop working with APP in the fall of 2010. RAN responded with follow-up questions that would allow us to verify HarperCollins' commitments using the same criteria used with other publishers. Disappointingly, HarperCollins did not respond to our questions and had remained, until this week, unwilling to make this "commitment" public.

While RAN is encouraged by HarperCollins' latest public statement, this statement lacks the teeth of verification and transparency that a truly robust policy requires to credibly ensure controversial fiber is no longer entering its supply chains. Our recently released tests demonstrate that HarperCollins' current filters are clearly inadequate to protect them from the risk of publishing books connected to rainforest destruction.

Other publishers, most recently and notably Disney, have made their values clear through comprehensive paper policies, which minimize paper use, maximize environmentally superior papers like recycled and FSC-certified, and eliminate controversial sources. 

RAN remains open and eager to speak with representatives of HarperCollins to develop a paper policy that can shield the company from exposing itself to further risk of importing paper tied to rainforest destruction in its supply chains.

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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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