General Mills Under National Fire: New York to Minnesota

Written by Ashley Schaeffer

Topics: Agribusiness

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Last week was a busy one for General Mills, finding themselves increasingly under public scrutiny.  Not only are hundreds of children across the country now pressuring the company to get the palm oil out of their Cheerios, but during the 2010 Edison Awards in New York while receiving a gold award for their “Gluten Free Betty Crocker Cake Mix,” local New York activists disrupted the gala ceremony to bring attention to the irony that the company was receiving an award for innovation meanwhile destroying rainforests. Is rainforest destruction and willingly supporting practices that are making orangutans extinct really innovative?

On Wednesday April 28 several children descended upon General Mills Headquarters in Golden Valley, MN, to deliver the over 400 Earth Day posters that young school children produced nation-wide, asking General Mills to get the dead orangutans out of their breakfast cereal. They just don’t understand why General Mills insists on putting rainforest destruction-tainted palm oil in over 100 of their products including brands such as Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, and Hamburger Helper.

Elementary school student Amina in Dexter, MI expresses her concerns about General Mills

This came just days after General Mills released its 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report, which clearly showed that the company is not making the issue of palm oil a priority as it appeared in a brief paragraph on page 97 out of 102. The children delivering the posters asked General Mills to show a true commitment to sustainability, not just one that looks good on paper.

The following day, on Thursday April 29, the New York Action Network used creative tactics to disrupt two different sessions of the annual Edison Awards, a prestigious award that honors companies for their innovation.  As a finalist for their Betty Crocker Gluten Free cake mix, activists made sure to be there at both the leadership panel at the NY Academy of Sciences and at the evening ceremony in the event that the company earned an award so as to shed some light on the company’s negligent practices: continuing to purchase palm oil from Cargill even though we’ve proven that Cargill is clearing and burning threatened rainforests in South East Asia, making irreplaceable species like Sumatran tigers and elephants extinct, and displacing millions of Indigenous communities.

I encourage you to hear the story from the brave New York activists themselves and check out their photos.

The pressure isn’t only mounting nationally – locally we’re making a big splash too. Last night over 150 people attended the RAN-sponsored art and activist event at Tarnish & Gold Gallery in NE Minneapolis. Artists were asked to use local food corporations with shoddy human-rights and sustainability track records for inspiration, and the gallery walls were covered in images like the Pillsbury Doughboy walking among flaming forests, and General Mills logos on destroyed land. Winning artists received amazing awards from local businesses!

"Rainforest Doughstruction" from palm oil in General Mills' Pillsbury products!

But we’re not stopping there! Today is the infamous May Day parade here in Minneapolis, where we will march amongst thousands with a 6 ft. orangutan, Cargill chainsaws and oil palm trees to educate the public about the impact that local food and agriculture giants General Mills and Cargill are having on peoples, forests and species around the globe.

Join our movement to demand responsible palm oil today!

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