ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – It’s Girl Scout cookie season, but two Ann Arbor girls believe there’s nothing sweet about the potential for Tagalongs, Thin Mints and Di-Si-Dos to contribute to the destruction of rainforests.

Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, both 16, have more than 40,000 signatures on a petition at asking Girl Scouts USA to stop using palm oil, the production of which reportedly causes deforestation, endangers species, and contributes to human rights abuses and climate change.

“We are asking Girl Scouts and consumers to show their support for socially responsible and environmentally friendly Girl Scout cookies by signing our petition to the new CEO urging them to make cookies truly rainforest-safe,” Vorva and Tomtishen said in a press release.

“Girl Scouts USA has a responsibility to align their cookie ingredients with their mission ‘to make the world a better place.’”

The two girls first became concerned about palm oil five years ago after researching endangered orangutans for their Girl Scouts Bronze Award. After unsuccessfully raising their concerns about palm oil to Girl Scouts leadership, they partnered with two environmental groups, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Rainforest Action Network, to build awareness around the issue.

More than 70,000 people signed the girls’ previous campaign last year urging Girl Scouts’ former CEO to stop using palm oil.

In response to the campaign, Girl Scouts USA committed to its first-ever policy for palm oil, including buying Green Palm certificates to offset the ingredient’s use. With their new campaign, the girls have recruited more than 40,000 people in just one week to ask the Girl Scouts to completely eliminate palm oil from their cookies.

The girls told WWJ’s Kathryn Larson they don’t think the Girl Scouts have gone far enough.

“They’ve changed the box, but they haven’t changed the ingredients … It’s sort of deceiving,” one of the girls told Larson.

Madison and Rhiannon were recently nominated for a UN Forest Heroes award. Winners of this award will be announced on February 9.

Comments (5)
  1. roneida says:

    Why don’t they protest against priests raping little boys?

    1. sally says:

      Why don’t you start your protest. Palm oil production destroys rain forests and kills organatangs. Get a clue.

  2. Lawrence says:

    girls,you should worry about education and let the cookies go. Its once a year. Your elected people in washington are doing more harm than girl scout cookies are.

    1. sally says:

      Get a clue moron. Destruction or rain forests destroys the planet you live on.

  3. The Palm Oil Truth Foundation says:

    The UN through the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat (UNFFS) has trivialized its own award by recklessly making such an award to the 2 young girls without doing the necessary due diligence. This is a travesty! These 2 innocent girl scouts are just unwitting pawns callously exploited by adult provocateurs to carry out their warped agendas to stop the growth of the world’s cheapest cooking oil.

    It has to be observed that palm oil is grown on only 0.23% of the world’s agricultural lands and yet produce a staggering 30% of global supply of edible oils!

    0.23% of the world’s agricultural real estate makes palm oil the most efficient and inherently sustainable oilseed crop in the world. If we juxtapose this 0.23% of global agricultural land against the entire global land surface area, there has to be a reason for palm oil to attract so much flak.

    In truth, the real reason for palm oil to be attacked with such ferocity is due largely to palm oil’s incredible natural yield of 4-5 metric tons per hectare (with potential to reach 20 tons per hectare under current R&D) which is already close to 10 times that of competing edible oils. An inability to compete with palm oil on a level playing field is the raison d’etre behind these diversionary disinformation campaigns!

    Perhaps, someone should apprise the UNFFS and our 2 young girl scouts of the fact that Malaysia has been planting palm oil for more than a century, and despite being erstwhile the world’s largest producer can still boast of forest cover of 59.50% (see CIA’s World Factbook 2011.) after more than a hundred years of palm oil cultivation! North America from where Tomtishen and Vorva hail has only a measly 26% forest cover!

    The recent discovery of 2,000 orangutan in the wild in Kalimantan, was reported by National Geographic. With roughly 50,000 orangutans thought to remain in the wild, the new find could add 5 percent to the world’s known orangutan numbers, said Erik Meijaard, senior ecologist for the Nature Conservancy in Indonesia.

    So much for deforestation and endangered orangutans!

    Perhaps, the UNFFS should create a separate award category next year for “Best Environmental Spin Award”. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), who nominated the girls for the award should win it hands down! At the very least, Girl Scouts USA should award the UCS a merit badge for spin!

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