Thanks for taking action after we alerted you that General Mills products contain rainforest destruction. Nearly 8,000 of you took action by sending a letter to General Mills about your concerns about palm oil containing rainforest destruction in trusted brands such as Pillsbury, Betty Crocker and Hamburger Helper. Your letters, in combination with our massive banner unfurled on the lawn of their corporate headquarters, got General Mills’ and local media attention.
Did you get the response from General Mills? Are you thinking, “Gee, it seems like General Mills is doing all the right things already. Why is RAN picking on them?”. Here’s my response:
First of all, I want to commend General Mills for responding right away to share their concerns about the role of palm oil in rainforest destruction, biodiversity and endangered species. I’m glad they clarified that regardless of the modest amount of palm oil and palm oil derivatives they use in their products, they have a responsibility to purchase with principles; they have engaged their suppliers, which are all members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO); and will only purchase from suppliers who meet RSPO principles and criteria. Great! While we knew this before we sent out our action alert and unfurled our banner, it’s always good to get clarification.
It is also reassuring that General Mills publicly supports a moratorium on palm oil expansion in tropical rainforests. Unfortunately, their palm oil supplier, Cargill, does not. In Cargill’s recently updated “Palm Oil Commitments”, Cargill commits to no expansion into high conservation value forests (HCVF) or peatlands and only expand on “degraded land”. As the largest importer of palm oil into the United States, Cargill should expand their commitment by supporting a moratorium on palm oil expansion in Southest Asia as other companies have already done. It is our hope that General Mills can convince Cargill to support a moratorium.
In order to ensure that the palm oil in General Mills’ products is not causing rainforest destruction, displacing communities and exacerbating climate change, General Mills needs to do more than engage their suppliers and trust that they are meeting RSPO principles and criteria. General Mills needs to pressure its suppliers to meet and exceed RSPO principles and criteria. Cargill is not doing that and until it does, General Mills should cancel its palm oil contract with Cargill or continue to be associated with rainforest destruction. To learn more about Cargill’s role in rainforest destruction, check out our case studies and videos.
As a trusted all-American brand with lots of recognition in corporate social responsibility, General Mills should encourage their suppliers to go beyond the RSPO. Settling for sustainable palm oil is not enough to protect the world’s remaining rainforests, forests communities and our climate. U.S. companies that use palm oil in their products, like General Mills, should demand socially and environmentally responsible palm oil. This is palm oil that is identity preserved (like organic), traceable and segregated. This is palm oil that is not grown on converted rainforests or peatlands, or where communities have not given their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). If companies cannot commit to socially and environmentally responsible palm oil, they shouldn’t be using it.
To learn more about what we’re calling socially and environmentally responsible palm oil, check out our reccommendations for market leaders and our model policy at www.theproblemwithpalmoil.org
Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign Director