The Rainforest Agribusiness campaign team attended the Natural Products Expo East in Boston, Massachusetts, where we participated in two very successful events entitled “Little Seed. Big Problem. Bold Solution” in coordination with Seventh Generation to expose the problems with palm oil and share what we are doing collectively to reduce our impact on the world’s tropical rainforests, communities and the climate. We are calling on companies to be market leaders by taking supply chain accountability and adopting responsible policies and practices. This could include making a public commitment to action by joining the 45 companies who’ve signed RAN’s pledge to protect rainforests, communities and the climate; taking internal and supply chain actions that create transparency; helping with RSPO reform and implementation; and advocating for change in the global palm oil industry and in the underlying causes of deforestation.
You can watch the public event featuring the following panel of distinguished speakers moderated by Simran Sethi, award-winning environmental journalist: Jeffrey Hollender, CEO of Seventh Generation; Michael Besancon, Global Vice President of Purchasing, Distribution and Marketing of Whole Foods Market; Leila Salazar-Lopez, Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign Director; and Matilda Pilacapio, land owner and human rights advocate from Papua New Guinea working to strengthen traditional agricultural systems in response to Cargill’s expanding oil palm plantations in PNG.
Matilda kicked off the event by sharing personal stories and photos of the impacts of palm oil on her land in the Milne Bay Province and the traditional communities of PNG. Then, I followed by sharing info about the global reach of palm oil and the global need to take action. I also showed a short clip of GREEN, a moving documentary which tells the story about the corporate conversion of rainforests in Indonesia for palm oil, tropical wood and paper through the eyes of one of the palm oil industry’s victims – a dying orangutan. As you may already know, almost 90% of orangutan habitat has already disappeared. If current trends of deforestation continue, the orangutan could be the first great ape to go extinct in the near future.
We’re working to stop this destruction by exposing and pressuring Cargill, the biggest importer of palm oil into the United States, and by working with market leaders, like Seventh Generation and Whole Foods, who are making commitments to environmentally and socially responsible palm oil.
Beyond signing our pledge to protect rainforests, communities and the climate, these companies have created action plans and committed to sourcing 100% identity preserved, fully-traceable “sustainable” palm oil by 2012; support a palm oil moratorium; and have agreed to call on industry peers to do the same, among other things. Seventh Generation has taken it one step further and has agreed to mobilize their customers and peers to take action on climate change legislation by writing to President Obama and his lead climate negotiator Todd Stern to demand that they ensure that UN REDD respects Indigenous rights and protects rainforests from palm oil plantations. You can take action too, by going to our website and signing the letter.
As mentioned above, 45 companies have now signed RAN’s pledge and have committed to developing an action plan to source more socially and environmentally responsible palm oil. Since there are very few examples of socially and environmentally responsible palm oil, organic and/or RSPO certified palm oil, there’s a long way to go to achieving success. Success begins with a commitment, however, so were encouraging more companies to join us in taking action to protect rainforests, communities and the climate from the destructive and unsustainable use of palm oil that currently exists.
In coming weeks, we’ll be exposing and pressuring some of the biggest suppliers and importers, beginning with Cargill, to take responsibility for their role in rainforest destruction for palm oil. Keep tuned in for more info!
Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign Director