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L&W- Tell us about Matilda.

BB- RAN has four major campaigns running, one of them being our Agribusiness campaign. Rainforest Agribusiness is focused on stopping the expansion of oil palm plantations in Indonesia.  Indonesia right now is number three in terms of Global Gashouse Emmisions and it’s not because they’re burning lots of coal, it’s not because they have diesel trucks or boats, it’s because corporations are destroying their forest at such a rapid rate.  Palm oil is a demand basically brought on by the global junk food industry and cosmetics industry and fast food industry.  Palm oil boils down to three major companies, Cargill being one of them that is in the United States, and it’s the one we’re applying the most pressure on.  We’re working with people on the ground in Indonesia and then with the market here to shine a light on Cargill’s investment in the plantations in Indonesia, and asking them to stop expanding.  It’s a massive company.  Since they’re privately owned we can’t apply investor pressure, so we’re going to smaller companies who buy from them as well by working on the ground in Indonesia where they purchase palm oil for their products.  It’s cheap and they don’t understand, or don’t care to understand, the damaging impact their purchase of palm oil is making.  We actually have a bunch of palm oil users who have signed a petition saying they won’t use palm oil unless they can get it from a sustainable area.  We’ve had Seventh Generation and Lush Cosmetics sign on and say yep, we’re not going to use palm oil.  If it’s not phased out now, we’re going to figure out how to phase it out.  It’s picking up a lot of steam.  And it’s not just affecting Indonesia.

L&W- Who else is it affecting?

BB- Places like New Guinea.  Matilda Pilacapio is from Papua, New Guinea.  She came the to United States on a quest to find some answers to stoppin the destruction of her home land.  She visited our offices on her way to a couple of forums on palm oil destruction, one in Boston and on in Minneapolis.  She wanted to go to Minneapolis to talk to Cargill where they’re based because she can’t get the meeting in Papua, New Guinea where she’s from.  And she has seen countless numbers of communities destroyed.  Their ability to provide for themselves as farmers has been destroyed because they used to grow coconut where they could grow countless other crops under the coconut, like taro root and tapioca, and now they can’t.  Now they can only grow these massive palm oil farms that don’t provide anything except palm oil palm.  They require vast amounts of chemical additives and fertilizer pesticides and have a short term life when they then have to be replaced.  When she came to our office, when Matilda came here, she didn’t have to come, but she wanted to meet us and share with us her individual story.  The fact that we give her hope and the fact that we give hope to so many people because of what we’re doing and what we represent, that’s what is incredibly moving to me.  Knowing that we are able to make a big difference lends itself to constantly feeling a sense of accomplishment.  One of the things that RAN really does is that it creates hope. You can see a photostream of her visit here on our blog on our website.

L&W- Can you tell us about the other three campaigns?

BB- Yes, no problem.  There’s our Freedom from Oil campaign, the Global Finance Campaign and the Old Growth campaign.  Let me start with Freedom from Oil…

Be sure to check back on Monday for an overview of these three campaigns and info on how young people can get educated on Rainforest abuse.

And don’t forget to visit http://www.ran.org
Or Twitter them! @ran