RAN Invites 100 Cargill Employees to Born To Be Wild

Written by Ashley Schaeffer

Topics: Agribusiness

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Born to be Wild movie posterOn the eve of the global premier of Born To Be Wild, we sent this invitation to Cargill CEO Greg Page. We hope he and many of his Cargill employees will take us up on this generous offer!

Dear Mr. Page and employees of Cargill,

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) would like to extend a formal invitation for you and your employees at Cargill Inc. to attend a screening of your choice, at our expense, of the new IMAX 3D feature film Born To Be Wild.

This inspiring film features exquisite footage of young orangutans and baby elephants and tells the stories of the compassionate humans working to rehabilitate them back to the wild. The film is uplifting in spirit and focuses primarily on these two amazing animals and the heart-warming efforts of people trying to help them, while also highlighting serious but often overlooked issues central to the business operations of Cargill.

Many of the orangutans featured in the film were orphaned because their parents were killed when their rainforest habitat was cleared to make room for palm oil plantations. Orangutans are critically endangered and live only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Unfortunately, this is an all too common story. As the number one importer of palm oil into the United States, Cargill has a unique role to play to ensure that rampant palm oil development does not continue to result in rainforest destruction and orangutan extinction.

We understand that the forests of Indonesia are a long way from Wayzata, Minnesota, and it can be difficult to fully connect the dots between business decisions made here and the costs these incur to people and places literally a world away. There is a very real risk that iconic animals like the orangutan could be pushed into extinction within our lifetimes, but it does not have to be this way. Strangely enough, it may well be businessmen headquartered in places like the Twin Cities who ultimately decide their fate.

So please accept this opportunity to allow IMAX 3D to bring the rainforest to you. We feel so strongly that it is important for you to see this film that we are offering to pay for tickets for the first 100 Cargill employees who email keepuswild@ran.org. We will arrange for tickets to be reserved at the theater confidentially and with no strings attached. To view a trailer for the film and find other background materials on this issue, please visit www.ran.org/wild.


Becky Tarbotton
Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network

Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas
Director, Orangutan Foundation International

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

  1. Mark Murphy says:

    Cargill appreciates the Rainforest Action Network’s invitation for our employees to attend the IMAX film “Born to be Wild.” Cargill and RAN share the same goal of protecting rainforests and habitat for wildlife, and we hope the film will raise awareness of the need for conservation and protection of habitats. However, we do take issue with the implication that Cargill is responsible for the rainforest destruction that has displaced animals featured in the film. This is simply not the case.

    We are actively engaged in efforts to protect orangutan habitat. In 2007 Cargill and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) signed a partnership agreement aimed at identifying and securing high conservation value forest in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, for the conservation of the orangutan. This action was used as a model for best practice in palm oil growing areas in the region.

    We have had many conversations with RAN over the years about Cargill’s approach to sustainable palm oil production, and in November 2010, RAN representatives toured Cargill’s Harapan plantation at our invitation.

    Earlier that year, RAN had issued a report called “Cargill’s Problem with Palm Oil.” In that report, RAN claimed Cargill had illegally cleared rainforests and primary forests; this is categorically untrue. Our policy prohibits us from expanding or developing new plantations in areas of high conservation value forest (HCVF), and we have not done so.

    In the past, RAN also has falsely claimed that we use burning to clear land. We have a strict no-burn policy for land preparation, and we have never burned land for clearing. RAN accuses Cargill of developing plantations on peat land; again, this is not true. We have committed that we will not develop new plantations on deep peat land.

    For a more detailed response to these allegations, visit http://www.cargill.com/corporate-responsibility/pov/palm-oil/response-to-ran/index.jsp

    To learn more about Cargill’s commitment to sustainable palm oil production, visit http://www.cargill.com/corporate-responsibility/pov/palm-oil/index.jsp

    Mark Murphy, AVP Corporate Affairs

  2. Ashley Schaeffer says:

    Dear Mark,

    We are pleased that you share our goals of protecting rainforests and habitat for wildlife! Does that mean you are adopting a palm oil policy to put safeguards in place to prevent further orangutan habitat destruction? That has been RAN’s goal all along. And does this mean you will go see Born To Be Wild with your family? Our offer stands to buy you and your colleagues tickets to the screening of your choice.

    We look forward to responding to your claims in depth, but that will have to wait until Monday as we’re going to address the issues you raise in great detail on our website. However, I can’t resist giving a quick and dirty response right now:

    Public relations antics aside, the bare fact is Cargill has no policy whatsoever to ensure that the palm oil it is importing to American consumers does not come from areas of freshly cut rainforest or active social conflict.

    Cargill is directly tied to rainforest destruction, orangutan extinction and Indigenous human rights violations through its major suppliers. Until Cargill gets serious and adopts a meaningful policy on palm oil, it will continue to be implicated in Sinar Mas’ orangutan habitat destruction as well as IOI’s clearing of peat land, illegal deforestation, illegal use of fire during land clearing and recent coverage of their egregious Indigenous rights violations (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/07/malaysia-palm-ioi-idUSL3E7F708W20110407).

    Lastly for now, you claim Cargill is “actively engaged in efforts to protect orangutan habitat.” The truth is, the only thing Cargill is doing to protect orangutans is participating in a “pilot project” with FFI (Flora & Fauna International). This is simply not enough. Orangutans are on the brink of extinction and the expansion of palm oil plantations is responsible for pushing them there. Cargill, as the largest importer of palm oil into the US, we expect more from you. Did we mention we think you should adopt a palm oil policy that ensures rainforest destruction is not associated with the palm oil you sell? If our message has not been clear enough, stay tuned and on Monday we will spell it out to be perfectly clear.

    Talk to you then,


  3. Mark Murphy says:

    Given RAN’s passion for the orangutan, we’d like to think you’d be celebrating the years of work done by Fauna and Flora International. FFI’s partnership with Cargill is much more than a pilot. Here are some of the accomplishments:

    FFI discovered two new populations of orangutans in Indonesia, launched Protection and Management Units for one of those populations and secured an agreement with the district government to make sure the other group is protected.

    In 2009, FFI took our partnership to another level. They identified more than a half million hectares of high-conservation-value forest – habitat that supports 4,475 orangutans – and helped develop management plans for those areas.

    You can read about it on FFI’s site, including how they’ve made even more progress working with our suppliers and local governments and other NGOs: http://www.fauna-flora.org/initiatives/cargill-partnership/.

    Let’s all be grateful for the very real work FFI is doing to protect orangutans.

    Mark Murphy
    AVP Corporate Affairs

  4. David Rosenstein says:

    I have seen the movie and was appalled by what is going and the part Cargill is playing in the destruction of forest, animals and people. I don’t see that Cargill has a palm oil policy in place that will avoid further destruction of orangs, forest and the indigenous population. It seems mostly like “green” PR spin and passing the buck. Cargill needs to step up and do a whole lot better!! If they do not effectively set and enforce sustainable policies for their suppliers then they are actively complicit in the destruction going on.

  5. Ashley Schaeffer says:

    Yes indeed RAN supports orangutan rehabilitation! But more importantly we support orangutan habitat protection to Keep Them Wild (www.ran.org/wild). Regardless of what FFI is doing, for Cargill the question remains: will Cargill adopt basic safeguards to ensure that American consumers are not buying palm oil tainted with orangutan extinction or will the company hide behind a pilot project?

    To reiterate, the bare fact is that Cargill has no policy whatsoever to ensure that the palm oil it is importing to American consumers does not come from areas of freshly cut rainforest, orangutan habitat, and/or active social conflict. We look forward to working with Cargill to ensure that this policy is in place as soon as possible.



  6. Rhiannon says:

    Mr. Murphy,

    I too am appalled at the role Cargill is playing in contributing to rainforest deforestation and orangutan extinction. If Cargill is as committed to the environment as you claim it is, why is it so hard to adopt a palm oil policy like the one RAN is suggesting? It’s time to stop greenwashing, face the facts, and adopt this policy which will put basic safeguards in place to ensure that no more damage is done.

    I hope that you will start by taking RAN up on their offer of 100 movie passes for you and your employees to see Born to Be Wild.

    Thank you,
    Rhiannon Tomtishen

  7. Your website is actually unique. Many thanks for that.

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