The Girl Scouts of the USA organization is known as much for its cookies as anything else, and it made headlines in recent years for finally removing GMOs from selected recipes, although there is still a long way to go in terms of adding more non-GMO and organic options.
Now, the Girl Scouts are under scrutiny for yet another ingredients-related issue: the alleged use of an “army of children” working to source one of its main ingredients for its signature cookie line, according to a recent investigation.
With the season expected to start this month and running through spring, you may want to know this information before making your next purchase, as it could affect the livelihoods of countless girls in places where the ingredient in question is currently being harvested.
Report: Child Laborers Forced to Miss School, Exposed to Dangerous Chemicals
The results of the investigation, published by ABC News-5 Cleveland and other major news outlets this past week, details a scene that no parent should ever be forced to see.
Child laborers in Indonesia and Malaysia are allegedly being kept out of school, forced to work for free or for little pay, and “routinely exposed to dangerous chemicals,” the report said.
Other workers are said to have been smuggled across borders and left in a vulnerable position where they could be exposed to child trafficking or even sexual abuse.
While it would be bad enough if this particular scene were relegated to one company, the investigation, conducted by the AP, also linked these laboring operations to popular brands including Nestle, Unilever, Kellogg’s PepsiCo and other “Big Food” corporations supply a large number of the groceries consumed across the United States.
Girl Scouts Responds (But is it Too Little, Too Late?)
Girl Scouts of the USA has responded to the allegations by saying that child labor is not welcome in their products.
“Our investment in the development of our world’s youth must not be facilitated by the under-development of some,” the organization said.
They also called on the two companies that bake them to take swift action to address any possible abuses.
“If certain suppliers are not following ethical practices, we expect our bakers and RSPO to take action quickly to rectify those exceptions,” they said.
The acronym RSPO stands for Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which is a non-profit the organization is part of addressing ethical production and treatment of workers.
For more information on Girl Scouts cookies including an ingredients list for each cookie (palm oil is a prominent ingredient in many of them), check out this link.