Girl Scouts Boycotting Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout cookies are being delivered to many doorsteps and workplace desks right now in our region, but an environmental controversy continues over the baked goods. Two Girl Scouts and nearly 60,000 online petitioners, including some around Pittsburgh, are concerned about the impacts of one of the cookie's ingredients: palm oil. The Allegheny Front's Ilana Yergin has more.

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HOST: Girl Scout cookies are being delivered to many doorsteps and workplace desks right now in our region, but an environmental controversy continues over the baked goods. Two Girl Scouts and nearly 60,000 online petitioners, including some around Pittsburgh, are concerned about the impacts of one of the cookie's ingredients: palm oil. The Allegheny Front's Ilana Yergin has more.

YERGIN: Nancy Wolfe used to love eating Thin Mints at her home in Ingram outside Pittsburgh. Straight. From. The Box. Not this year.

WOLFE: We are not buying Girl Scout cookies. We normally buy every year because we support our friends and their girls who are in scouting. However, we refuse to buy the cookies this time until they make the change.

YERGIN: The change Wolfe wants to see was inspired by an e-mail from Change.org. It described Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen's petition to the Girl Scouts of America. The girls, both scouts from Michigan, started campaigning five years ago to rid Girl Scout cookies of palm oil. The 16-year-olds cited deforestation and human rights abuses. Palm oil is the world's leading oil crop. It's grown in tropical Asia, Africa and South America. The girls wanted to raise awareness about an important issue to help earn the Girl Scouts Bronze Award. Jane Goodall's work with chimpanzees inspired them to advocate for another ape, the orangutan. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil says the animal's home in Borneo is being destroyed to make way for palm plantations.

Madison is pleased that the Girl Scouts of America recently responded to the campaign.

VORVA: This fall, the Girl Scouts of USA announced their palm oil policy, which is the first change in almost 100 years of existence that was ever driven by girls and that was a great step in the right direction.

YERGIN: The Scouts will buy green palm certificates that support the sustainable production of palm oil. The organization also says it will use only sustainable palm oil by 2015. But they hope the petition will push the Scouts to go even further...sooner.

VORVA: What part of this palm oil policy does is they're offsetting their palm oil usage by purchasing green palm certificates which is a step in the right direction, but it by no means guarantees that the palm oil in these cookies is rain forest safe. They've changed whatís on their boxes but they haven't changed the ingredients.

YERGIN: Madison and Rihannon stress that they are not attacking the Girl Scouts and are still proudly involved in the organization. They even got the bronze scout award for their work. They just believe the company should live up to the same standards being taught to the troops.

For The Allegheny Front, Iím Ilana Yergin.