General Mills, a US company based in Minneapolis, makes food including Cheerios cereal and also owns brands including Pillsbury, Betty Crocker and Toaster Strudel been accused of using unsustainable palm oil in its production by a rainforest action group Rainforest Action Network.
The production of palm oil - which is used in products including make up and in the production of some food items - is one of the leading causes of rainforest deforestation in Malaysia.
The network urged the company to change its stance on palm oil use and pointed out that as such a large firm, it could have "a huge impact on changing the food industry for good".
However, a spokesperson for General Mills has said that while the firm does use palm oil, it "has committed to using palm oil only from companies belonging to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil".
On Januari 19, 2010, about 40 protesters from the Rainforest Action Network walked onto General Mills' property, held up a banner, and posed for a photograph taken from a hired helicopter. Although security guards arrived to check out the protest, there was no confrontation
"They seemed to be all about getting a photo, and they left," said General Mills spokesman Tom Forsythe.
Some General Mills products do contain palm oil but, Forsythe said, the company has committed to using palm oil only from companies belonging to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a group that brings together growers, users, environmentalists and bankers, working toward the goal of a sustainable palm oil supply. Most palm oil originates in southeast Asia.
"General Mills shares concern about palm oil exports, particularly in regard to expanding into tropical rainforests," Forsythe said, adding that "we have been engaged in the issue" with suppliers.
The Rainforest Action Network said that growing demand for palm oil in recent years has fueled destruction of tropical rainforests in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. A spokeswoman called on General Mills "to be more transparent about their standards" in purchasing only sustainably grown palm oil.
Until then, said spokeswoman Margaret Swink, We'll be doing more fun and games" to pressure General Mills.