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It’s been almost a month since Girl Scouts Madi & Rhiannon asked for help in their campaign to remove rainforest-destroying palm oil from Girl Scout cookies.

After receiving a stunning 70,000 letters, Girl Scouts USA is now issuing a stock reply that lets us know they are paying attention, but their response contains only baby steps in the right direction. While still refusing to meet with Madi & Rhiannon, their spokeswoman recently stated, “we all want the girls to stand up for what they believe in. They’re trying to make changes, and we applaud them for that.”

Unfortunately, applauding won’t protect rainforests. We think it’s time for an intervention by Girl Scouts USA Honorary President Michelle Obama.

For Earth Day 2010, Michelle Obama told a group of children that the Obama household is “trying to save the tigers,” a request her daughter Malia frequently makes of her father.

The critically endangered Sumatran tiger is at risk of extinction. Logging to grow the palm oil now found in nearly every Girl Scout cookie is largely to blame. The connections between industrial-scale palm oil plantations, tiger extinction, and Girl Scout cookies are clear.

For Earth Day 2011, help us turn up the volume on our message to Girl Scouts USA by asking Michelle Obama to demand Girl Scout cookies be rainforest safe.

Letter to
First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama
Because you are the Honorary President of Girl Scouts of the USA, a mother of two daughters and First Lady, I am writing to alert you to an issue I know is dear to you and your family. On Earth Day last year, you told a group of children that Malia’s most frequent question about her Father’s job is what he is doing to help endangered tigers. You stated, “. . . the Obama household, we're trying to save the tigers.”

On the eve of Earth Day 2011, I’m writing to ask if you will consider marking the occasion by encouraging the executives of Girl Scouts of the USA to encourage crucial protections for these magnificent endangered animals and grant a meeting with two young women activists who exemplify the values Girl Scouts stand for.

The critically endangered Sumatran tiger is found only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. A leading threat facing Sumatran tigers, and other iconic animals like the orangutan, is the loss of their rainforest habitat from the expansion of large oil palm plantations. Shockingly, destructive palm oil is now found in every Girl Scout cookie recipe save one. As you can imagine, this is becoming a growing source of controversy for Girl Scouts, their families and troop leaders across the country.

This issue has come to the fore because of the inspiring work of two young Girl Scouts from Michigan – Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva – who became concerned about the use of palm oil in Girl Scout cookies when they were eleven years old. They have worked tirelessly ever since, launching their campaign to make Girl Scout cookies safer for tigers and the planet, but after an initial phone conversation three years ago, Girl Scouts USA has ignored their attempts to secure an in-person meeting with decision makers.

Madi and Rhiannon were Malia’s age when they began petitioning the leadership of Girl Scouts to meet with them. Now 15, they have asked RAN to partner with them to convince the Girl Scouts to take them seriously and adopt a palm oil policy by next cookie season that will break the link between the Girl Scout cookie brand and tiger extinction. The noble actions of these passionate young women are a testament to the Girl Scout mission to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”

The connections between rapidly expanding industrial-scale palm oil plantations, tiger extinction and Girl Scout cookies are clear. As the Honorary President of Girl Scouts USA, please consider bringing this issue to Girl Scouts CEO Kathy Cloninger before it’s too late for Malia’s generation to see Sumatran tigers in the wild.

Please speak with the leadership of Girl Scouts USA and encourage them to celebrate their 100 Year Anniversary by respecting these young leaders they have helped foster by agreeing to meet with Madi and Rhiannon by World Environment Day on June 5, 2011.

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