Girl Scout Cookies, Orangutans, and Palm Oil

There's something wrong with our favorite cookies, and the Girl Scouts themselves want us to know about it.  Specifically, two girls from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen.  Girl Scout Cookies contain palm oil, and Vorva and Tomtishen, with the motivation of saving populations of orangutans, want to make sure the cookies they're selling are sustainably and humanely produced.  Michelle Desilets, executive director of the Orangutan Land Trust, says, "We have found orangutans beaten to death with wooden planks and iron bars, butchered by machetes, beaten unconscious and buried alive, and doused with petrol and set alight. Since 2004, more and more orangutans in our centers have been rescued from areas within or near oil palm plantations, and over 90 percent of the infants up to three years of age come from these areas."  The girls hope to spread this among their troop and others.  "Being a Girl Scout is about showing stewardship for the land," says Vorva, "We knew we had to keep fighting."  They have successfully convinced their own troop to stop selling the cookies, and are working to bring their message and actions to other Girl Scouts, and the Rainforest Action Network.  The reaction of the Girl Scouts of the USA is a disappointing one: GS sales manager Amanda Hamaker claims, "Our bakers don't believe that there is a viable alternative to produce the taste, the quality, all of the attributes which our consumers and our members require and expect out of our cookies."  Though the Org is a member of the RSPO, that doesn't necessarily mean their practices are really sustainable.  The good news, however, is that after much avoidance of the issue brought up by Vorva and Tomtishen, Girl Scouts of the USA is finally beginning to listen.  Last week the girls had a two hour meeting at the GS USA's national headquarters in NYC, and the Org agreed to research palm oil to see if they can get more of the ingredient sustainably, or replace it.  Looks like steps are being made in the right direction!  Hopefully something will come of this.  In addition, hopefully this will help to convince others to take similar action with other companies to promote sustainable palm oil.

Want to find out more about Girl Scout Cookies and Palm Oil? Go here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/24/girl-scout-cookies-palm-oil-orangutan_n_866398.html (Includes a short segment video from the Early Show), and here:
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2074798,00.html

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