Companies Sign Pledge Against Palm Oil's Expansion

Thirty-one food, cosmetic, and consumer goods companies – and one palm oil supplier – have signed a Rainforest Action Network (RAN) pledge to support a moratorium on the expansion of palm oil plantations into tropical forests, according to an Oct. 22 press release.

L'Occitane, Organic Valley, Ciranda, and several other businesses agreed to urge agribusiness giants Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge, and Cargill to produce more sustainable palm oil.

In mid-August, RAN contacted more than 350 companies that use palm oil in their products to inform them of the widespread rainforest destruction caused by the proliferation of palm oil plantations in tropical rainforests.

"We applaud those companies who have signed our pledge and committed to source palm oil in a way that does not destroy rainforests," said Leila Salazar-Lopez, director of RAN's Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign. "However, we are extremely disappointed that eco-friendly companies like Whole Foods, the Body Shop, and Ben & Jerry's remain on the fence while forests are burned and communities are forced from their homes."

Demand for palm oil, a key ingredient in many consumer goods, has risen significantly in recent years. As a result, palm oil plantations are expanding at a rate of 2.5 million acres per year into the tropical forests of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea, the countries that supply 99 percent of imported U.S. palm oil. Pristine forests are clear-cut and burned to accommodate the expansion, contributing heavily to global climate change, species extinction, and the displacement of Indigenous and local communities. Deforestation is the primary reason that Indonesia, a top producer of palm oil, is now the world's third-highest greenhouse gas emitter.

Ciranda, one of two suppliers of organic palm oil from South America, signed the pledge, signaling a new era in the palm oil industry in which customers can purchase palm oil from suppliers that commit to protect rainforests and honor human rights.

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