Lady Scouts name on cookie bakers to handle youngster labor

The U.S. Girl Scouts said Wednesday that child labor has no place in their iconic biscuits and urged the two companies they bake to act quickly to address possible palm oil-related abuses in their supply chains.

The comments were sent in the form of a tweet to Associated Press reporters, who on Tuesday published an investigation linking Girl Scout cookies and the supply chains of other well-known grocery brands to an estimated tens of thousands of children who often work unpaid for hours in dangerous conditions harvesting palm fruits on plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia.

“Child labor has no place in the Girl Scout Cookie production,” tweeted the Girl Scouts. “Our investment in the development of the youth of our world must not be facilitated by the underdevelopment of some.”

The Girl Scouts also referred to a not-for-profit global organization called Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which promotes ethical production, including treating workers, and wrote, “If certain suppliers fail to follow ethical practices, we expect our bakers and RSPO to act quickly take action to correct these exceptions. “

The Girl Scouts had not responded to repeated requests from the AP for comment on the findings prior to Tuesday’s story that many children who work in the palm oil industry do not have access to adequate school or health care, and some never learn to read or write. The story describes how others live in fear of being rounded up by the police and thrown in detention centers for being born on plantations of parents who work illegally, and how girls are vulnerable to sexual abuse.

Reporters attributed child labor to the supply chain of one of the Girl Scouts’ bakers, Little Brownie Bakers, owned by Italian confectionery brand Ferrero, who did not comment on the results. The other baker and its parent company, Weston Foods, based in Canada, did not provide details about its supply chain for proprietary reasons. Both said they were determined to source sustainable palm oil.

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