Girl Scouts Protest Palm Oil, Refuse to Sell Cookies

Girl Scouts may be best known for their cookies, but two Ann Arbor, Mich., middle school students sold magazines this year instead of the organization’s trademark product because they found out an endangered species is threatened by an ingredient in Girl Scout cookies, The Grand Rapids Press reports.

Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, both 12, were doing research to earn a Girl Scout Bronze Award when they discovered the habitat of orangutans in Indonesia is being threatened by the production of palm oil, the newspaper writes.

Palm oil is produced from a fern-like plant called the oil palm tree. This plant can be grown only after the rain forest has been cleared -- most often through administering the slash-and-burn technique, a process that contributes greatly to deforestation. Thousands of orangutans -- now an endangered species -- have been killed in this process and as the demand for palm oil grows, their numbers will continue to dwindle.

"We've seen pictures of orangutans set afire and beaten. You really just want to reach out and do all that you can to help save them," Madison said.

“Just doing the Bronze Award wouldn’t be enough,” Madison said.

"We have stopped selling (the cookies)," Rhiannon said.

In their research, the girls said they found the demand for palm oil has risen in the past few years because it is free of trans-fat. However, it is relatively high in saturated fat.

They said they now avoid any snacks and candies that palm oil is found in.

Recently, Rhiannon and Madison met with Jane Goodall, known for her efforts to protect primates, at a youth conference in Chicago. Goodall signed the girls’ petition against the production of palm oil.

Click here to read the full story from The Grand Rapids Press.