General Mills makes commitments to fight climate change

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 29, 2014 - Oxfam International is applauding General Mills for committing to what it calls “industry-leading measures” to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chains and to support political action to address climate change.

The advocacy group said General Mills' commitments came after more than 230,000 people signed petitions as part of Oxfam's Behind the Brands campaign to urge the largest food and beverage companies to take action to mitigate the effects of global warming.

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According to Oxfam, General Mills - the maker of Cheerios, Hagen Dazs ice cream and Green Giant vegetables - is the first of the world's major food and beverage companies to implement long-term science-based targets to cut emissions from across all of its operations and supply chains with the goal of keeping the rise of global temperatures below 2 degrees Centigrade from preindustrial conditions.

“General Mills has taken a bold step to be an industry leader in addressing the clear and present threat climate change poses to our food system,” said Monique van Zijl, campaign manager for Oxfam's Behind the Brands campaign. “Rather than stand by silently as increasingly dangerous conditions undermine its business and the food we all eat, General Mills aims to be part of the solution.” She added that General Mills' action is more evidence that consumers can change the way companies operate.

Oxfam launched its Behind the Brands campaign last year to let consumers know how the biggest food companies deal with their supply chains on issues such as sustainable use of land and water, transparency, climate, and rights of women and farmers, especially in the world's poorer countries. In its May assessment of the Big 10, General Mills finished in last place. The other companies whose polices were reviewed are Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mondelez, Coca-Cola, Mars, Danone, Associated British Foods and Kellogg.

Oxfam said it is now turning its attention to Kellogg, one of General Mills' main competitors. “The ball is now in Kellogg's court to respond to the hundreds of thousands of people calling for climate action,” van Zijl said.

General Mills has also joined the steering committee of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), a leading advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful climate and energy legislation. BICEP was started in 2008 by the non-profit group CERES with a core group of five companies, including Starbucks, Nike, and Timberland. It has since expanded to 31 leading companies, such as eBay Inc., Symantec and Jones Lang LaSalle. BICEP members have been vocal proponents of renewable energy, greener transportation, and stricter pollution controls on power.

“General Mills has long recognized the need to mitigate the risks that climate change presents to our planet, our business and each one of us,” Ken Powell, General Mills chairman and CEO, said in a statement released by CERES. “Science-based evidence underscores the urgency to take action and form effective and efficient climate and energy policies.”

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