General Mills Linked to Rainforest Destruction

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Maker of Cheerios, Betty Crocker and Toaster Strudel Buying Unsustainable Palm Oil
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Minneapolis ¬– Local food giant General Mills (GIS) came under fire today for its use of unsustainable palm oil, a food commodity strongly linked to rainforest destruction in Southeast Asia, as 42 activists with Rainforest Action Network, Walker Church and other concerned community organizations unfurled a 30 x 70 ft. banner reading “Warning: General Mills Destroys Rainforests” outside of the company’s Minneapolis headquarters building.

The protest is the start of a corporate campaign against General Mills, asking the trusted food company to publicly commit to sourcing only palm oil produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. At least one hundred General Mills products, including such trusted brands as Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Stovetop Hamburger Helper and Toaster Strudel contain palm oil or palm oil derivatives, violating General Mills’ stated social and environmental commitments.

“General Mills could do a lot to transform the palm oil supply in the food industry and to protect rainforests, communities and the climate,” said Madeline Gardner, Minneapolis-based activist. “As an industry leader and a trusted brand, General Mills could have a huge impact in changing the food industry for good.”

Production of palm oil, found in roughly half of all products sold in U.S. supermarkets, has risen significantly in recent years to meet growing worldwide demand. As a result, palm oil plantations are expanding rapidly into the tropical forests of Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, contributing heavily to global climate change, species extinction, and the displacement of Indigenous and local communities.

“Palm oil is a leading cause of rainforest destruction in places like Indonesia,” said Ashley Schaeffer of Rainforest Action Network. “As long as General Mills is using irresponsibly sourced palm oil, their customers will have to worry that they are contributing money to rainforest destruction.”

Worldwide, the degradation and destruction of tropical rainforests is responsible for fifteen percent of all annual greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon emissions resulting from Indonesia’s rapid deforestation account for around eight percent of global emissions: more than the combined emissions from all the cars, planes, trucks, buses and trains in United States. This huge carbon footprint from forest destruction has made non-industrialized Indonesia the third-largest global greenhouse gas emitter, behind only the U.S. and China.

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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: