This past Sunday in Minneapolis, something unusual happened during the local Twins baseball game. Unhappy with the way one of their hometown corporations (and the largest privately owned in the world) is treating rainforests and its inhabitants, local activists unfurled a banner to spoof Cargill’s 8th inning sponsorship ad.
As the Twins pulled into the eighth inning of their closing home game against the Texas Rangers, the crowd was treated to a few unscheduled advertisements. Instead of Cargill’s usual announcements promoting hot dogs, a large banner, hung by activists from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) Twin Cities, was unfurled from behind home plate, making Cargill’s usual advertisement change to read “Cargill Destroys Rainforests.” Fans started chattering in the stands as the banner was held until stadium officials took it down. No one was arrested.
Cargill regularly sponsors the Twins’ eighth inning at home games, and produces the meat for the stadium’s four types of hot dogs.
“As Minnesota residents, we want to be just as proud of our hometown companies as we are of our hometown team,” said Carrie Anne Johnson of RAN – Twin Cities Chapter. “Right now, Cargill is striking out on rainforests. It’s time for them to step up to the plate and take real action to protect the world’s last remaining rainforests.”
The banner was intended to highlight the poor environmental record of Cargill, the giant Minneapolis based agribusiness corporation, which is also one of the Twins most loyal hometown sponsors. Cargill is the nation’s leading importer of palm oil, which is destroying rainforests in Indonesia. Cargill owns their own palm oil plantations and is buying palm oil from some of the worst suppliers in Southeast Asia. They’ve been caught polluting waterways, taking land from local communities and destroying rainforests. Many of America’s biggest food companies buy palm oil from Cargill, so their palm oil is in much of America’s foods.
Although the company has agreed to take some steps to evaluate the impacts of its own plantations and supply chains, it has backed out of promises to cancel contracts with Sinar Mas Group, an Indonesian company widely considered to be one of the leading rainforest destroyers in Indonesia.
“Cargill’s been saying that they want to change incrementally,” said Jared Ingebretson of RAN- Twin Cities Chapter. “The rainforest isn’t being destroyed incrementally, however. Cargill needs to act now to stop cutting down rainforests and destroying people’s homes and livelihoods.”
Picked up on local television and seen by thousands of Twins fans, all eyes are now on Cargill. Will they do the right thing and adopt a socially and environmentally responsible palm oil policy?