General Mills shares your concerns about palm oil. Why is RAN picking on them?

Written by Leila

Topics: Agribusiness

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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.

Warning: General Mills Destroys Rainforests

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

Leila Salazar-Lopez
Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign Director

8 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Jerilyn Capaccione says:

    We need to keep the pressure on all companies that are using the palm oil!
    I’m glad General Mills is at least listening to our request to change from palm oil to…………

  2. John Miller says:

    I hate you, General Mills! Stop buying palm of that cause the destruction of the Indo-Malasian rainforest!

  3. John Miller says:

    I hate you General Mills! Stop buying palm oil that destroys rainforests!

  4. Harry Schneider says:

    Good job RAN, go on like that, we will support you. We have to keep on insisting in an enviromental-friendly use of our planet`s ressources by all companies, in order to rescue as much nature as possible. Thank you for the appreciated action!

  5. claire lewis-Jones says:

    I am glad that they ‘listened’, but I don’t think we should let up until they STOP PURCHASING AND USING Palm Oil IN THEIR PRODUCTS. I received a response from General Mills and I shot back my response: ‘UNTIL YOU STOP PURCHASING AND USING PALM OIL MY FAMILY, AND MY FRIENDS WILL NOT BE PURCHASING ANY GENERAL MILLS PRODUCTS!!!!! If we hit them in their ‘purse’, maybe, that would help. We did boycotts in the 70′s and 80′s. I am certainly willing to do them again!

  6. Richard Pecha says:

    It’s great that General Mills is aware of the destruction palm oil harvesters do to the rain forests ~ however; it’s much more important that thier suppliers are of the same mind set and if not, they should find another supplieror suspend the usage of such oils.

  7. These people are doing a tree sit in the freezing cold West Virginia mountains and befuddling the largest mountaintop removal coal company in Appalachia. Word.

  8. It is great to see that people are putting what is right before making a profit. More ethical investing is what I like to see.

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