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General Mills breakfast cereals at the Entrance to Price Chopper February 2014. Photo: Mike Mozart / JeepersMedia via Flickr.com.
General Mills breakfast cereals at the Entrance to Price Chopper February 2014. Photo: Mike Mozart / JeepersMedia via Flickr.com.
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General Mills promises - only deforestation-free palm oil

The Ecologist

24th March 2014

From now on General Mills, a major US food conglomerate, will buy only palm oil that does not contribute to deforestation or the loss of high carbon tropical peatlands.

That's an appropriately ambitious timetable that will help accelerate a transition to cleaner palm oil production.

General Mills has publicly committed to sourcing deforestation-free palm oil. According to the company:

"To help ensure our purchases do not contribute to deforestation of the world's rainforests or negatively impact the communities that depend on them, we will source 100 percent of our palm oil from responsible and sustainable sources by 2015."

This represents a major turnaround from just a month ago, when the company performed poorly in the Union of Concerned Scientists scorecard of palm oil sourcing commitments by 30 top companies.

The scorecard found that 24 of these household brands have inadequate commitments or lack commitments altogether. General Mills did not make the grade, scoring only 42.6 out of 100.

But now UCS says the company has taken "a step that will significantly decrease the company's contribution to climate change."

Additional promises

General Mills has promised to source palm oil from only suppliers whose operations meet the following principles:

  • Only legal sources.
  • No development on high conservation value landscapes or high carbon stock forests.
  • No development on peat lands regardless of depth, and use of best management practices for existing plantations on peat.
  • Compliance with the General Mills Supplier Code of Conduct.
  • Prevention and resolution of social and / or land conflicts consistent with the principle of free prior and informed consent.
  • Traceability to the extraction mill and validation of fresh fruit bunches.


Turning a new leaf

Sharon Smith, campaign manager with UCS's Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative, said: "Despite failing to make the grade on the scorecard, it seems General Mills is turning a new leaf.

"General Mills updated their policy to source responsible palm oil. The commitment protects peatlands, carbon-rich areas of decayed vegetation. General Mills expressly notes that it won't source palm oil from suppliers who develop peatlands."

Regarding the company's promise to implement its new policy by 2015, she added: "That's an appropriately ambitious timetable that will help accelerate a transition to cleaner palm oil production."

Ubiquitous

Palm oil is used in everything from food and fuel to beauty products and cleaning agents. Dramatic increases in demand for palm oil are driving increases in deforestation.

About 10$ of all global warming emissions result from deforestation. This practice also destroys irreplaceable forests that are home to endangered species, and a resource for forest-dependent communities.

 

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