In 2007, two kids in Michigan set out to earn their Girl Scout Bronze Award by raising awareness about the endangered orangutan. They learned that the orangutans’ habitat is being destroyed to plant oil palm plantations. After making the shocking discovery that palm oil was an ingredient in Girl Scout cookies, they launched a campaign to make Girl Scout cookies rainforest-safe.
Unveiled on the sidelines of a meeting of the Tropical Forest Alliance, a coalition of government leaders and companies from the Consumer Goods Forum, the innovation group (POIG) will determine production standards that will help the alliance meet the ambitious goal of eliminating deforestation from the production of soybeans, palm oil, beef and pulp and paper by 2020.
Forced labor, including debt bondage, also continues to sustain palm oil plantations in Malaysia, also on the Tier 2 Watch List, and Indonesia. (Palm oil is used in lots of processed foods, from Dunkin' Donuts to Girl Scout cookies.) Cargill, the largest importer of palm oil and trader of 25 percent of the world's palm oil supply, says it has a policy of not using any slave or child labor. But the Rainforest Action Network has alleged that one of Cargill's palm oil suppliers used slave labor on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
SAN FRANCISCO–Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Indonesian advocacy group, Sawit Watch, find continued evidence of abusive recruitment and labor practices and child labor on palm oil plantations in Indonesia. The groups’ findings center on one of the world’s most significant palm oil producers, Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK), which is a major supplier to U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill. This comes amidst a growing trend of investigations documenting controversial labor practices throughout Indonesia’s palm oil plantation industry.
Reports from around the globe paint a distressing portrait of palm-oil expansion, with land disputes, violent conflicts, and even murders carried out on behalf of palm-oil barons. “It’s a modern-day gold rush,” says Laurel Sutherlin of the Rainforest Action Network, a nonprofit with one of the most active and visible campaigns against palm oil. “Especially in the last decade, there has been a meteoric rise in global demand for palm oil.
Deforestation is at the top of the CIA’s list of environmental issues facing Indonesia, and much of it can be attributed to the creation of palm oil plantations, built to satisfy demands of the American market, which has increased the import of palm oil by 485 percent over the last decade.