RAN protesters barking up wrong tree

This news was sourced from Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) protesters unfurled a giant banner in front of General Mills' corporate headquarters in Golden Valley on Tuesday, 19 January 2010, accusing the food maker of using palm oil from suppliers that destroy rainforests.

About 40 RAN protesters walked onto General Mills' property, held up a banner, and posed for a photograph taken from a hired helicopter. Although security guards arrived to check out the protest, there was no confrontation.

"It was a non-event; they were polite. They seemed to be all about getting a photo, and they left," said General Mills spokesman Tom Forsythe.

Some of General Mills products, like Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Nature Valley Granola Bars and Yogurt Burst Cheerios do contain palm oil but Forsythe said, the company has committed to using palm oil only from companies belonging to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a group that brings together growers, users, environmentalists and bankers, working toward the goal of a sustainable palm oil supply. Most of the palm oil shipped into the US originate from Indonesia and Malaysia.

"General Mills shares concern about palm oil exports, particularly in regard to expanding into tropical rainforests," Forsythe said, adding that "we have been engaged in the issue with suppliers."

Cargill, which supplies palm oil to General Mills, said in a statement, "We are making important contributions to ensuring that palm oil is grown sustainably throughout the entire palm oil industry. We are committed to sustainable palm oil production."

RAN activists claim growing demand for palm oil in recent years has fueled destruction of tropical rainforests in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. RAN spokeswoman Margaret Swink called on General Mills "to be more transparent about their standards" in purchasing only sustainably grown palm oil. Until then, she said, "we'll be doing more fun and games to pressure General Mills."

One Response to RAN protesters barking up wrong tree

  1. Whether it's oil palm or soybean cultivation, forest had been cleared. Big cities like New York, London, Toronto, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta were once virgin jungles.

    Talking about deforestation, oil palm plantations have 136 - 148 oil palm trees per hectare for at least 25 years when due for replanting. The oil palm plantations are made up of hundreds of million trees with broad leaves to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

    Where are the trees in soybean, rapeseed farms sunflower fields? Are they not clearing jungles and forests, eg Amazon Forest in Brazil, for soybean cultivation? In fact, they have to clear 10 times more jungle land as soybean yield per hectare is one tenth of oil palm trees per hectare.

    Talking about orangutans, what about animals in the redwood forests cleared for soybean cultivation in the US? At least in Malaysia and Indonesia, we have Orangutan Rehabilitation Centers to ensure the orangutans, mainly the young ones, are well-nursed and taken care of before they are released back to the forest reserves.

    In oil palm plantations, we plant legumineous cover crop and we preserve soft grass to check erosion. We grow beneficial plants to combat nettle pillars and bagworms. We install barn owl nest boxes to build up owl population to control rats in the plantations. We also implement other biological control measures to reduce usage of pesticides.

    What about soybean farms? Now they even grow genetically modified soybean so that the farmers can spray more toxic pesticides without reducing its yield.

    All the negative accusations against palm oil is prompted by fierce trade rivalry. Financiers and sponsors and people behind "green" NGOs want to protect soybean market share, because globally, palm oil sales volume have overtaken soy.

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