Local girl scouts take aim at palm oil in cookies

Jul 12, 2011

To make way for palm oil plantations in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, forests are slashed and burned.

By clear-cutting these forests, foreign governments and companies can ruin the habitat for animals like Sumatran tigers, Asian elephants, and orangutans.

The Detroit Free Press has a story about two local girl scouts who are hoping to get palm oil out of their Girl Scout cookies.

From the Freep:

The Girl Scouts don't have a badge for "Demanding the Organization Stop Using Palm Oil in its Iconic Cookies and Causing a National Brouhaha."

If the organization did, Rhiannon Tomtishen, 15, of Ann Arbor and Madison Vorva, 16, of Plymouth would have them sewn on their vest or sash.

A 2007 project about orangutans for a Girl Scout Bronze Award has snowballed into a nationwide campaign to remove palm oil from Thin Mints and the rest of the cookie lineup. When the girls learned that Indonesian and Malaysian plantations destroy the rain forests these great apes call home to grow the ingredient, they did what the Girl Scouts taught them to do -- take action.

The Free Press reports that teens met with national leaders in the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. to raise their concerns and they hope to have a follow call with the leaders next month.

The Environment Report's Ann Dornfeld did a story on the destruction that can be caused by palm oil plantations 2009 - along with habitat destruction, one of the major concerns in the release of vast amounts of CO2 when the peat forests are burned.

From Dornfeld's report:

Indonesia’s peat forests are rapidly being logged, drained and burned in order to clear the land for tree farms and palm oil plantations.

The peat can be dozens of feet deep. When it’s burned, the carbon it’s been storing is released as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. All of that burning peat has made Indonesia the world’s third largest emitter of CO2.