Rainforest Action Network Missive Urges Hundreds of Companies to Stop Using Palm Oil

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO – More than 2,000 concerned citizens across the country went to supermarkets in San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York and dozens of other cities today to apply stickers reading, “Warning! Product May Contain Rainforest Destruction,” on any items found to contain palm oil. The day of action was organized by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which also sent letters to more than 300 companies urging them to stop using palm oil in commercial products until more sustainable palm oil sources are made available in the market.

Demand for palm oil, which is commonly found in soaps, cosmetics, food products and other consumer goods, has risen significantly in recent years. As a result, palm oil plantations are expanding at a rate of 2.5 million acres per year into the tropical forests of Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Pristine forests are clear-cut and burned to accommodate the expansion, contributing heavily to global climate change, species extinction, and the displacement of Indigenous and local communities. Deforestation is the primary reason that Indonesia, a top producer of palm oil, is now the world’s third highest greenhouse gas emitter.

“If Americans knew the extent to which their food and common household items were contributing to rainforest destruction, they’d probably think twice before buying them,” said Leila Salazar-Lopez, director of RAN’s Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign. “Our goal is to educate consumers and work with companies who use palm oil in their products to pressure palm oil suppliers, including ADM and Cargill, to stop destroying rainforests for palm oil plantations.”

RAN is targeting U.S. agribusiness giants Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge and Cargill as the largest global traders of palm oil and the leading importers of the commodity into the United States. To increase pressure on the agribusiness industry, RAN recently launched TheProblemWithPalmOil.org, a website that originally encouraged visitors to help build an online database of products that contain palm oil. To date, more than 300 companies and 500 different products have been identified through the site, which now serves as a clearinghouse for information about the problems with palm oil.

“Though they may not know it, companies like Hostess and Nestle are perpetuating rainforest destruction and human rights abuses by using palm oil in their products,” said Salazar-Lopez. “We need them to understand the relationship between palm oil production and forest destruction so they can become allies in pressuring their suppliers to stop the palm expansion.”

RAN’s letter requested that companies:

  • Research their supply chain and inform RAN of who provides the palm oil they use in their products;
  • Contact their palm oil suppliers and tell them that if they are unable to provide a supply that can be independently verified as not being derived from recently cleared tropical rainforests, to find an alternative supplier and/or phase out palm oil from their products altogether;
  • Support the moratorium on palm oil expansion in tropical rainforests.

Companies that received RAN’s letter include Keebler, Newman’s Own, Pepperidge Farms, Frito Lay, Nabisco, Loreal and Kraft. The full list of companies contacted by RAN can be found at www.theproblemwithpalmoil.org. To learn more about RAN’s Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign, please visit www.ran.org.

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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: www.ran.org