“Warning! General Mills Destroys Rainforests.” 

This text recently appeared on a 30’ x 70’ banner (above) held outside the company’s Minneapolis headquarters by 42 activists who say the company is irresponsibly sourcing palm oil

More than 100 General Mills products, including brands like Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Hamburger Helper and Toaster Strudel, contain palm oil or its derivatives, according to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). 

Demand for the oil has steadily increased worldwide in recent years, and palm-oil plantations are expanding rapidly into tropical forests, RAN notes—growth that contributes to climate change, species extinction, and the displacement of indigenous and local communities.

“Palm oil is a leading cause of rainforest destruction in places like Indonesia,” says RAN representative Ashley Schaeffer. “As long as General Mills is using irresponsibly sourced palm oil, their customers will have to worry that they are contributing money to rainforest destruction.”

Notes RAN: 

“Worldwide, the degradation and destruction of tropical rainforests is responsible for 15% of all annual greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon emissions resulting from Indonesia’s rapid deforestation account for around 8% of global emissions—more than the combined emissions from all the cars, planes, trucks, buses and trains in the United States. This huge carbon footprint from forest destruction has made nonindustrialized Indonesia the third-largest global greenhouse-gas emitter, behind only the U.S. and China.” 

But General Mills is defending the way it sources palm oil. A prepared statement reads, in part:

 “We have analyzed our use of palm oil,” said Gene Kahn, General Mills’ global sustainability officer. “General Mills does not purchase any palm oil directly.  However, we do purchase ingredients produced from palm oil from suppliers.  Overall, we calculate that General Mills’ use of palm oil and palm derivatives is modest—approximately .0004% of world exports.”

Click here to sign the General Mills petition.

Click here to watch the video “Does Your Breakfast Cause Rainforest Destruction?”

Photo by Mercury Miller/RAN