Cargill’s Choice: Become a Forest Hero or Remain a Leader in Destruction

The palm oil industry is changing so fast, it’s hard to keep up with all the companies that have sworn off rainforest-destroying palm oil. Here at Forest Heroes, we’ve celebrated landmark announcements from Kellogg, Wilmar, and Golden-Agri Resources, and are hoping for some positive news from Dunkin’ Donuts any day now.

cargillWhile over half of all palm oil traded today is now covered by responsible sourcing policies, we still have a lot of work to do on the laggards.

Cargill, as the largest privately-owned company in the country and the largest importer of palm oil into the United States, could make a huge difference.

We’re launching a petition and campaign calling upon Cargill’s CEO David MacLennan to catch up to the competition and become a leader in responsible commodity sourcing.

Other big palm oil traders like Wilmar and Golden-Agri Resources have already announced strong deforestation-free, peat-free, and exploitation-free policies, making Cargill’s “no questions asked” approach shameful. The industry is transforming, and there’s no acceptable excuse for wrecking rainforests and threatening the last 400 remaining Sumatran tigers.

Please sign our petition and tell Cargill that it’s time to become a forest hero.  

Then read some more about Cargill’s up and down record of leading and lagging on forest issues.  

Cargill has shown in the past that it understands forest issues and can be a leader in cleaning up the supply chain of a commodity. A few years ago, a quarter of Amazon deforestation was driven by soy production. But after feedback from customers like McDonald’s, Cargill became a leader in establishing a moratorium on new forest clearing. As a result, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon declined from 25 percent for soy to just .25 percent in only three years.  Meanwhile soy production kept increasing as growers planted on degraded lands instead of pristine forests. It’s a major success story and Cargill is a big part of it.

On palm oil, Cargill has yet to show such leadership. In July of 2013, Cargill’s major supplier, Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) was found to be a suspect in the widespread burning of rainforests in Indonesia, which left tens of thousands of people choking in Singapore due to record levels of smog and haze. That same month, an investigation involving Rainforest Action Network, and featured in Businessweek, found that the Cargill supplier was engaged in slave and child labor. A few months later, a follow-up investigation showed that KLK planned to expand into ancestral lands of tribal groups in remote areas of Papua New Guinea, and reveal more child labor abuses. While many other companies expressed outrage and cut ties, Cargill continues to buy from KLK to this day.  

Cargill may even be backtracking on soy.  It has so far refused to support renewing the moratorium on deforestation for soy in the Amazon – putting even this progress at risk.

Cargill can decide to become a forest hero. The company can build on actions by others in the industry and commit to trading only deforestation-free, peat-free, and exploitation-free commodities. Cargill has a choice whether to remain with the laggards or step up and lead the other half of the palm oil industry to a world where agriculture doesn’t threaten forests and their inhabitants.  You can help convince Cargill to make the right choice by signing the petition.

On June 2, 2014

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