That sound when you bite down on Doritos? That’s the sound of rainforests being “crunched” to make way for massive palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia. Workers, and even children, are trapped in modern slavery on the plantations. Forests and peatlands are burned to the ground, driving endangered species like orangutans to extinction and polluting the Earth's atmosphere with gigatons of greenhouse gases -- all to make palm oil.
Doritos’ parent company, PepsiCo, could put a stop to the deforestation. But instead of leading the charge, PepsiCo is hanging back, issuing middling policies with gaps so big a parade of endangered pygmy elephants could fit through them.
Tell PepsiCo to be bold and help save the rainforest.
There's plenty though to be hopeful about. The world's largest palm oil producers recently promised to halt deforestation for a year, while they study what exactly a forest is (seriously). Experts believe that we could get these producers to extend the moratorium indefinitely if brands like PepsiCo show producers that they're only interested in conflict-free, responsible palm oil. We already convinced some of the world's largest traders to adopt responsible palm oil policies this year -- now let's make sure PepsiCo steps up too.
In many markets around the world, Doritos chips contain vegetable oils, and some clearly contain palm oil. Even the ones with only "vegetable oil" listed may in fact contain palm oil. As long as PepsiCo hasn't fixed its policies, there's no way to be sure you're not buying rainforest destruction, and all the suffering that comes with it.
Deforestation in Southeast Asia has made Indonesia the third largest carbon emitter on Earth. The orangutan, the Sumatran tiger, and countless other endangered species are being pushed to the brink of extinction.
Many workers are lured into palm oil plantations on false pretenses, and have their passports and IDs confiscated. Investigations have found workers being beaten by "enforcers", locked in tiny barracks at night, and not allowed to leave for any reason.
On top of all of that, the remaining forests of Indonesia are storing as much carbon dioxide as the entire Earth emits in a year, meaning that allowing the destruction to continue could detonate a carbon bomb.
Our appetite for chips and partying is considerable, and there are lots of alternatives to Doritos. PepsiCo execs know this, and they will be particularly sensitive to publicity about palm oil in the coming weeks as people stock up for end of year parties and family celebrations. This gives us a unique opportunity to get PepsiCo’s attention.
It looks like PepsiCo responded to public pressure last month by temporarily pulling its new product Pepsi True down from Amazon.com after it was flooded with thousands of negative reviews from SumOfUs members for its links to deforestation. It has defended its current palm oil policy, but the company has stopped short of what’s needed, and we’ve got to urgently kickstart it into action with a fresh new campaign.
Doritos, it’s crunch time to adopt a global, time-bound, responsible palm oil policy.
Joint letter to PepsiCo from SumOfUs, Greenpeace, RAN, UCS, ILRF, July 23, 2014
All Eyes on PepsiCo: Will it Come Clean or Keep Trafficking Conflict Palm Oil?, RAN, November 10, 2014
Palm oil companies say they'll put forest destruction on hold. But what happens next?, Greenpeace UK, September 19, 2014