Recipe for Abuse: Palm Oil, Child Labor, and Girl Scout Cookies

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EcoJustice RadioEcoJustice Radio discusses the dangers palm oil plantations present to tropical rainforest biodiversity and Indigenous communities in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Africa. We talk with Olivia Chaffin, a Girl Scout from Tennessee who has been petitioning to get not-sustainable palm oil out of Girl Scout cookies, and Daniel Carrillo, who advocates to protect forests worldwide with Rainforest Action Network.

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Palm Oil Indonesia, Rainforest Action Network“Sustainable Palm Oil” is deceiving and does not ensure ethical ingredients. Palm oil is everywhere – in our foods, cosmetics, cleaning products, and fuels. It’s a source of huge profits for multinational corporations, while at the same time destroying the rich biodiversity of tropical rainforests and the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and small landholders. Displacement of indigenous Peoples, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity are all consequences of our palm oil consumption.

Thus, the palm oil inherent in a purchase of a $5 box of Girl Scout Cookies is connected to child labor, deforestation and displacement, climate disruption, and human rights atrocities. But there are solutions. Our show’s guests are working to demand accountability from business and campaigning for solutions that support the climate, human rights, and indigenous self-determination.

STORY: An Orangutan’s Journey Though Palm Oil Killing Fields

The rainforests around the world are home to a rich biodiverse ecology that helps stabilize our climate. An estimated 50 million Indigenous peoples live in or depend on tropical rainforests. Rainforests are also an economic driver for corporate agriculture, product producers, and banks.

On today’s show, we focus mainly on Indonesia and Malaysia, although the concerns and solutions addressed extend to other rainforests around the world including Africa and Central and South America. The Indigenous communities of these places experience the same social injustices and environmental impacts.

The leading agricultural drivers of economic growth in tropical areas are Palm Oil, chocolate, and paper pulp. Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer. Palm oil is an ingredient in roughly half of the products on supermarket shelves and in almost three out of every four cosmetic brands, although it can be hard to identify because the ingredient of palm oil can appear on product labels under more than 200 different names.
We are led to believe that certifications that promote slogans like “Sustainable Palm Oil” meet our barometer for ethical ingredients. On today’s show you might be surprised to learn that there is a lot of deception and greenwashing taking place and not enough corporate responsibility.

Just because a producer switches Palm oil production from one farm or one country or one continent to another, does not erase the systemic issues being experienced by the indigenous and migrant workers. The ingredients in the treats we enjoy are connected to expanding and exploitative plantations around the world.

A purchase of a $5 box of Girl Scout Cookies is connected to child labor, deforestation and diplacement, climate disruption, and human rights atrocities. But there are solutions. Our guests are working to demand accountability from business and campaigning for solutions that support the climate, human rights, and indigenous self determination.

Olivia Chaffin [https://girlsagainstpalmoil.wixsite.com/my-site] is a 14 year old Girl Scout, vegan, and activist. She became concerned about palm oil in 2016 when she learned about the issues surrounding its production.
SIGN HER PETITION TO THE GIRL SCOUTS: https://www.change.org/p/girl-scouts-of-the-usa-remove-palm-oil-from-girl-scout-cookies

Daniel Carrillo is the Forest Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network. Daniel has worked over a decade in organized labor. He also has worked on international corporate campaigns in Latin America and Southeast Asia to defend worker rights and the environment.
RAN Keep Forests Standing Campaign: https://www.ran.org/campaign/keep-forests-standing/

More Info:
AP: https://apnews.com/article/palm-oil-forests-indonesia-scouts-83b01f2789e9489569960da63b2741c4
RAN: https://www.ran.org/the-understory/destroying-lives-and-stealing-land/
More on Palm Oil: https://www.wilderutopia.com/international/earth/palm-oil-and-orangutans-the-oily-truth-what-we-can-do/

Podcast Website: http://ecojusticeradio.org/
Podcast Blog: https://www.wilderutopia.com/category/ecojustice-radio/
Support the Podcast: https://socal350.org/contribute-to-socal-350-climate-action/

Hosted by Jessica Aldridge
Engineer: Blake Lampkin
Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Assoc. Producer: Emilia Barrosse
Show Created by Mark and JP Morris
Music: Javier Kadry
Episode 89

Updated 13 February 2021

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist and designer, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Partners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt