Palm Oil Newsroom

Making Girl Scout Cookies Better for the Planet

For Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, it all began with orangutans. Four years ago-inspired by the work of primate researcher Jane Goodall-the two friends from Ann Arbor, Mich., collaborated on a research report on the endangered primates to help qualify for their Girl Scout Bronze award, one of the highest prizes offered by the 3.2 million-member organization. Vorva and Tomtishen have both been scouts since they were five years old, and they take their roles and responsibilities seriously.

Time Magazine
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cookie Crumbles for Girl Scouts, as Teens Launch Palm-Oil Crusade

To earn their Girl Scout Bronze Award four years ago, Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva set out to study orangutans.

Instead, they wound up investigating Thin Mints, Trefoils and Samoas.

What they uncovered soured them on the sweets and has put the Michigan teens at odds with Girl Scouts of the USA. Now they're on a march to change the recipe for Girl Scout cookies.

Their target: palm oil, which can come from places the primates live.

Wall Street Journal
Friday, May 20, 2011

Girl Scouts Are Awesome: Saving the Rainforest From Their Cookies

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.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How the Girl Scouts Turned Themselves Into Great-Ape Killing Villains

The Girl Scouts‘ bungled handling of a controversy over the palm oil used in its cookies is a classic case of how a myopic, defensive PR strategy can quickly make you the poster child for bad behavior. The organization –formally the Girl Scouts of the USA — and its beloved cookies are hardly the biggest users of palm oil, although 16 of the 17 cookie varieties contain it.

BNet: CBS Interactive Business Network
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Happens When Two Girl Scouts Take On The Dirty Palm Oil Industry

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.

Fast Company
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Child labor, orangutans and Thin Mints: Two renegade Girl Scouts raise questions about palm oil used in popular cookies

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.”
Sunday, April 24, 2011

Do Girl Scout Cookies Harm the Environment? Renegade Scouts Fight Against Palm Oil Ingredient

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.

Time Newsfeed
Thursday, May 5, 2011

Statement in Solidarity with Long Teran Kenan Community in Indonesia

Release Date: 
Wednesday, April 6, 2011

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:

Girl Scouts: Cookies Cut Down Rainforests

Release Date: 
Monday, March 21, 2011

Laurel Sutherlin, 415.246.0161
Ashley Schaeffer, 707.391.8208

Girl Scouts available for interviews upon request.

Rainforest Action Network Calls on Lead Palm Oil, Pulp and Paper Consumers to Support Indonesian Moratorium on Forest Destruction

Release Date: 
Thursday, March 3, 2011

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.