Originally published February 27 2014
Kellogg Company claims it will only use palm oil from environmentally, socially responsible suppliers
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Major food maker Kellogg's has listened to a growing number of its customers and has agreed to dramatically increase the healthiness quotient of its products by using palm oil that comes only from suppliers who have proven they actively protect rainforests and peatlands, in addition to respecting human rights.
According to Britain's The Guardian newspaper, the company's action comes after an intense campaign from consumer groups around the world. Those groups say now that the move will dramatically improve chances of survival for animals considered highly endangered, such as the Sumatran tiger and the orangutan in Southeast Asia, and will provide protection and relief for indigenous peoples in places like Indonesia, New Guinea, Latin America, Malaysia and West Africa who subsist on tropical rain forests.
As reported by The Guardian:
At least 30,000 square miles of tropical forest has been cut down in the past 20 years to supply the burgeoning global food industry with cheap palm oil to make packaged foods, ice cream and snacks. The deforestation has led to illegal land grabs, forest fires and social conflict in communities which depend on forest resources for their livelihoods. The heavy loss of peatlands has also contributed significantly to the increase in climate change emissions.
Makers of Corn Flakes, Special K say okay to greener ingredient
Kellogg's said in a press release that the company plans on requiring its suppliers to "protect forests, endangered species habitat, lands with high carbon content, and peatland of any depth.... Suppliers [will also] be required to protect human and community rights."
"While palm oil is a very small percentage of our total ingredients, as a socially responsible company, concerns about the sustainable production of palm oil are clearly on our radar screen," said sustainability officer Celeste Clark.
Some of the most notable of Kellogg's brands include the venerable Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies (invented in 1906 and the mid-1920s, respectively), Special K and Pringles potato chips. The company is thought to use upwards of 50,000 tons of palm oil per year.
Kellogg's officials went on to say that the company plans to impose its palm oil changes by December 2015, giving its suppliers time to conform and also giving the company time to adjust.
"This is clearly a step in the right direction. Now it needs to be implemented. This will limit the damage that has already been done but it shows that the palm oil industry is in transformation. Now it needs other major US and European companies to follow," Pat Venditti, deputy forest campaign director at Greenpeace, told The Guardian.
The food giant's move, Venditti added, should raise standards throughout the industry while increasing pressure on other food companies and their suppliers to follow Kellogg's' example.
Support, too, from some shareholders
"As a socially responsible company, traceable, transparent sourcing of palm oil is important to us, and we are collaborating with our suppliers to make sure the palm oil we use is not associated with deforestation, climate change or the violation of human rights," said Diane Holdorf, Kellogg Company Chief Sustainability Officer.
"By partnering closely with our suppliers to meet these expectations, we will work together to address the important topic of deforestation," Holdorf said. "Every year we make significant progress against this important priority, and as we seek to further advance these goals, we will continue to report annually on our progress."
The decision further represents a huge success for environmental and consumer groups that have challenged the food industry's longstanding assurances that palm oil cultivation in Asia was done in a "sustainable" manner, but which had been hidden behind green "certificates" that were easy to obtain and had not slowed the destruction of forests and peatlands, even in national parks.
The company's palm oil decision is also going over well with shareholders.
"The commitment is garnering support from external stakeholders such as Green Century Capital Management, an environmentally responsible investment advisory firm that provides eco-conscientious people opportunities to invest in ways that encourage environmentally responsible corporate behavior," the company said in its statement. "Green Century is a long-term Kellogg Company shareholder, and worked closely with them in updating this commitment.
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