UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has video of RAN activists confronting ADM CEO Patricia Woertz!
Three RAN activists– Levana Saxon, Annie Sartor, and I– made Patricia Woertz, CEO of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) feel really uncomfortable in front of her peers today.
The Wall Street Journal is currently putting on a conference called the ECO:nomics conference (www.economics.wsj.com) at the incredibly posh Bacara Resort right outside of Santa Barbara. It is, essentially, an opportunity for the most powerful CEOs in the world—including the CEO of Wal-Mart, BP Energy, and of course ADM—to network about how they can profit off of the current Green movement.We had a late night arts and crafts party which resulted in some impressive looking passes (official passes cost $3500 per person), dressed in our best corporate attire and joined the conference. Patricia Woertz was on stage with the vice president of BP for Alternative Energy, and spoke on how biofuels were part of the wave of the future that would solve the climate crisis. When the time for question and answer came, I raised my hand high, and was given the mic. I asked her how ADM could realize its commitment to alternative fuels by promoting palm oil biofuels, which can result in over 10 times the greenhouse gas emissions of petroleum. In the spirit of that, I told her, we had brought over 600 letters from children asking her to protect the rainforest, and not cut it down for biofuels.
Levana, our Education Coordinator, walked up to Patricia—who was on a low stage—and handed her the stack of letters, which she took. I joined Levana next to the stage, and together we unfurled a poster sized pledge that would commit Patricia—and ADM—to stopping to work with companies that destroy the rainforest for biofuels.
We stood by the stage for over 3 minutes, holding out a pen and trying to interject as the panelists discussed Wilmar—a notorious company that we have been working against with our Indonesian partners—and how activists are framing the debate about biofuels.
The panel ended and we returned to our chairs. As soon as the lights went up, we were approached by security, who informed us that the Sheriff was on his way, and that we were to be arrested. Once the Sheriff got there, though, he asked us to get off the property and that Bacara would not press charges.
Best of all, activist author and celebrity Ed Begley Jr. is speaking directly after Patricia’s panel, and is in total support of our work. He is also going to be talk about how ADM’s work on biofuels does nothing to solve climate change. Go Ed!