Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Letter from Amanda Kalina and my response



Girl Scouts of Colorado received your letter. I know you have contacted many councils across the country, including our national office in New York. Below is information we have on this issue with our bakery, Little Brownie Bakers. I can only speak on behalf of Girl Scouts of Colorado and our relationship with Little Brownie Bakers. Thank you.

Statement about Palm Oil in Girl Scout Cookies

As a socially responsible company, the manufacturer of Girl Scout Cookies in Colorado, Little Brownie Bakers, takes its commitment to the environment very seriously. Little Brownie Bakers conducts its business in ways that respect the environment and demonstrate good stewardship of our world's natural resources. Their comprehensive approach to palm oil use reflects this commitment. Specifically, Little Brownie Bakers uses the minimal amount of palm oil possible to ensure that products meet consumers’ nutrition and taste expectations. In addition to maintaining the quality of their products, the oil blends they use allow them to reduce or eliminate trans fats while minimizing saturated fat content. Little Brownie Bakers:
· Only purchases palm oil from growers committed to growing sustainable palm oil as demonstrated by their membership in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a group working worldwide to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil
· Is a member of RSPO
· Offsets its palm oil use through the purchase of GreenPalm Certificates, similar to the carbon offset concept

Amanda Kalina
Director, Public Relations
Girl Scouts of Colorado

Dear Amanda Kalina,

Thank you for sending me a message about Little Brownie Bakers. I am so glad you have sent me information regarding their stance with palm oil. I hope I can help both you and Little Brownie Bakers to make a healthier, patriotic, and environmentally friendly choice.

 "What I saw was horrendous. Coming back from Borneo made me doubt if there was any hope for mankind". This is how Iolo Williams, a wildlife expert describes his experience in Borneo. I hope that my letter stresses the importance of this issue, and how the companies you have trusted are doing nothing to help the situation.

 Valerie Phillips of Greenpeace says that, “the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil gives the companies [with membership] a green front and encourages more consumption, which is precisely the cause of the problem.” Let’s explore deeper into this.

You are holding up on your end as a member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil. On their site they state that members are expected to “actively and constructively communicate and support the continuation of the Roundtable process and the implementation of Roundtable projects.” Unfortunately this company is using you to spread messages that are false. For annual membership fees exceeding $2,000, you should demand the truth.

 Sustainable palm oil plantations should comply with global environmental standards. They should contribute to a good practice. The RSPO doesn’t evaluate these plantations, and there are no official laws concerning sustainable palm oil practices. The RSPO has a list of ‘Principles and Criteria’ that companies are to follow. Environmentalists main concern about these P&C’s is that there is no legal framework to enforce them, and companies are allowed to meet the criteria at their own pace. In other words, most criteria to be certified as “sustainable” is never met.

 As if that isn’t concerning enough, those that claim to have sustainable palm oil don’t even keep it separate from other palm oils! Orangutan-sos.org informs us that “the ‘green’ palm oil is not generally kept separate. It usually goes in the same tanker.”

 Eddie Tango, a representative of the Centre of Environmental Law and Community Rights describes the P&C as, “a voluntary initiative so the company cannot even be held accountable for failing to meet standards.”

 Torry Kuswordono, of Friends of the Earth Indonesia goes to say that, “all of the companies have gotten complaints” and that they are, “not following the principles and criteria of RSPO but still have the certificate.”

Another sad aspect of deforestation for palm oil is the deception communities face. Wilmar International has been a member of the RSPO and has faced numerous complaints since 2004, in both court and the media. Investigations by the IFC, a member of World Bank, into these complaints uncovered very serious social and economic impacts:
1.Illegal use of fire to clear lands
2. Clearance of primary forests
3. Clearance of areas of high conservation value
4. Take over of indigenous peoples customary lands without permission
5. Failure to provide free informed consultations with the indigenous people, therefore gaining community support.
6. Failure to abide by negotiated agreements
7. Failure to establish agreed areas of smallholdings
8. Social conflicts triggering repressive actions by companies and security forces
9. Failure to carry out and wait for approval of legally required environmental assessments

10. Illegal clearance of tropical peat and forests

 Regardless, according to Forbes, “Wilmar International enjoyed a 24 percent increase in net profits in the first nine months of this year, allowing the company's director and joint chief operating officer, Martua Sitorus, to become Indonesia's second-richest man, with an estimated net worth of $3 billion.” Martua is rewarded for helping kill off the orangutan species.

 We are murdering orangutans, and there are companies trying to deceive us. And of course they are, there is a lot of money to be had in palm oil. The net profit of Indonesia’s 40 richest men has doubled in the past year to 42 billion. And much of this growth is due to palm oil expansion.

 Now that you know some facts, I hope that you reconsider your support of Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil.

 Unfortunately GreenPalm isn’t any better. For around $10 anyone can buy a “certificate”. The only reason to purchase a certificate is for a company to cosmetically improve their image. We already know that the palm oil that claims to be sustainable is not, so holding a “certificate” you can post on your website or foods doesn’t do much good. Also, the money goes straight towards the plantations. The plantation owners (all, not just those that claim to be sustainable) have profited over a million dollars because of GreenPalm.

 Why have all the plantations profited? GreenPalm boss Bob Norman says this arrangement provides an incentive for farmers to grow sustainable palm oil without all the cost of running a separate supply system. Without any regulation, though, we can be pretty sure the money is pocketed.

 Also, poor migrant workers on palm oil plantations are beating orangutans to death when they trespass. Orangutans share 96.7% of our genetic makeup, and we are killing them for cookies. These plantation workers are paid by loggers, who encourage them to beat orangutans to death, according to The Independent, a UK newspaper.

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation has reported orangutans being buried to death, as well as a logger dousing an orangutan in petrol and burning it down with the forest.

Iolo Williams, a wildlife expert witnessed baby orangutans clinging to their mothers and getting their hands chopped off near the Borneo rainforest. "What I saw was horrendous. Coming back from Borneo made me doubt if there was any hope for mankind".

Stories like this bring tears to my eyes. I believe in mankind. I believe in our world. I believe and support organizations like the Girl Scouts. We are human and we have to come together. We have to stand for something, or we will fall for anything. We have to demand that palm oil is removed from all products.

WE MUST BOYCOTT PALM OIL! It's the only way.

Well, if we don’t use palm oil, what will we use? There is a myth that palm oil is a healthier alternative since it doesn’t have trans-fat. This is not true.

Palm oil is not a healthy alternative because it has a large amount of saturated fat. There are many other oils that are both trans-fat free and low in saturated available.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute warned that the high content of saturated fat found in palm kernel oil and palm oil puts people at risk for heart attack or stroke.

The National Institute of Health did a study on the effects of palm oil. The results suggest that palm oil would not be a healthy substitute for trans fats by the food industry.

So what should you use instead of palm oil? Canola oil is trans fat-free. Canola oil is known as the healthiest of all cooking oils. It is low in saturated fat, high in mono-unsaturated fat (lowers cholesterol) and is the best source of omega-3’s. The Mayo Clinic supports the health benefits of using canola oil.

Where is canola grown? The United States and Canada. Not only is it a cash crop for our country, with major customers being Japan, China, Europe, Mexico, and Pakistan, but it helps our environment since it is grown here. Palm oil has to be shipped from Indonesia, whereas canola oil just has to be shipped domestically. We are saving our environment by many emissions by buying locally. We also help our economy when we buy products grown here.

 Canola oil is a healthier alternative to palm oil. It’s better for the environment. It helps our economy. Most importantly, canola oil doesn’t kill orangutans.

We can save them. Help me, and help our world. Switch to canola oil. Your cookies do not need to include palm oil. Please spread awareness about this. We are in this together.

Sarah Ware


  1. This MUST be put to an end! Palm oil should pretty much be called 'Death Oil'

    Orangutans are such gentle humble creatures and they should not be driven to extinction for an unhealthy vegetable oil that has plenty of better, more healthy substitutes.