Meet Uttuh. She’s an orphaned Sumatran Orangutan who lost her forest home when it was destroyed for palm oil. Today she reached out to Cargill CEO Gregory Page at his headquarters in Wayzata, Minnesota for help. She’s got nowhere to go and hardly a limb to stand on.
Uttuh’s treetop protest is just the latest appearance in a month long ‘invasion’ of forlorn orangutans in Cargill’s hometown outside Minneapolis. Multiple homeless orangutans have already been arrested protesting Cargill’s refusal to implement adequate environmental and social safeguards for the palm oil they trade across the globe.
To make matters worse for the Sumatran Orangutan, Cargill has also recently announced its plan to expand their Indonesian palm oil plantations — meaning that many more Critically Endangered forest species on some of Southeast Asia’s last natural rainforests will fall to Uttuh’s same fate. Target sites include Sulawesi, Central Kalimantan and South Sumatra, homes to thousands of unique species and Indigenous Peoples who rely on the lowland jungles of the rainforest for their survival.
While Cargill claims that it’s simply trying to feed the world and bring economic benefits to local communities in Southeast Asia, as the largest privately held multinational corporation in the US, it can’t hide from its most genuine motivation. Profit. Anthony Yeow, President Director of PT Hindoli, a Cargill oil palm plantation in South Sumatra is quoted as saying, “We are aggressively looking for new areas in Sulawesi, Central Kalimantan and South Sumatra that are environmentally safe to expand our oil-palm footprint.” Aggressively looking to expand our oil palm footprint? Environmentally-safe? Are these not oxymorons?
The truth of the matter is that the demand for palm oil is at an all time high. It’s found in over half the products sold in American grocery stores and has quickly emerged as ‘the’ cheap source of vegetable oil on the market. Its high profitability drives suppliers like Cargill to buy and sell more and more irresponsibly produced palm oil which is contributing to the unchecked expansion of palm oil production in Southeast Asia.
The facts are clear. Indonesia’s forests continue to be destroyed for new palm oil plantations. Endangered species like the Sumatran orangutan continue to be pushed closer to extinction. And, companies like Cargill continue to trade irresponsibly produced palm oil while unaccountable certification systems, including the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), attempt to legitimize the practices of the same companies who are continuing this deforestation!
Cargill needs to play its part in transforming the way palm oil is produced in Indonesia. They need to immediately establish environmental and social safeguards for their supply chain to ensure that the palm oil it produces and trades does not result in the destruction of rainforests, or lead to adversely impacts on Critically Endangered species, like Uttuh, and forest communities.
Let’s make Cargill accountable for their profit-driven assaults on Sumatran Orangutans, like Uttuh, by pushing them to change their palm oil safeguards right now. Sign up to be part of our National Palm Oil Action Team today!
Click here to stand with RAN in calling on the US snack food industry to cut rainforest destruction from its products.