February 11, 2014
Valentine’s Candies Make Human Rights Activists See Red
Rainforest Action Network Wants Hershey’s to Kiss Conflict Palm Oil Goodbye
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Grocery store customers in Baltimore, Ann Arbor, Phoenix, Fort Collins, and 250 other American cities will soon be finding stickers on their favorite Valentine’s Day candies that say, “There’s nothing romantic about #ConflictPalmOil.” The stickers are part of a Rainforest Action Network campaign to pressure Hershey’s and other top chocolate manufacturers to stop using palm oil that is linked to child labor, land grabbing, and rainforest destruction.
Rainforest Action Network is leading a Valentine’s Day campaign to convince the world’s biggest chocolate companies - including Hershey’s, Mars, Nestle and Mondelez (formerly Kraft) - to remove Conflict Palm Oil from their supply chains. Hundreds of activists are placing warning stickers on Valentine’s candies in grocery stores across the country this week to raise public awareness and put pressure on big chocolate companies to implement truly responsible palm oil policies that go above and beyond the unreliable track record of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the controversial certification body accused of ‘greenwashing’ Conflict Palm Oil.
“None of America’s big chocolate companies can verifiably ensure that their candies and chocolates do not contain palm oil connected to child labor, land grabs and rainforest destruction,” says Gemma Tillack, Senior Agribusiness Campaigner for Rainforest Action Network. “We’re putting Hershey’s on notice that it’s time to kiss Conflict Palm Oil good-bye.”
Palm oil is found in roughly half the packaged goods in grocery stores, and its use in the U.S. has grown over 500 percent in the past decade. More than 85% of that palm oil is grown on palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, where child labor is common and widespread. In fact, the US Department of Labor lists palm oil as a commodity notorious for child labor and forced labor. A nine-month investigation by the Schuster Institute of Investigative Journalism published in BusinessWeek last July documented widespread cases of child labor on palm oil plantations in Indonesia’s palm oil industry. Palm oil produced in this manner has been dubbed “Conflict Palm Oil” by Rainforest Action Network (RAN). (See Conflict Palm Oil report.)
“There’s nothing romantic about Conflict Palm Oil,” says Tillack. “No one wants to say ‘I love you’ with Valentine’s candies that cause child labor, land grabbing and rainforest destruction.”