New York-based Congress of Racial Equality alleges Disney's decision to source only FSC-certified products will exacerbate global poverty, goes against ideals of its founder

LAS VEGAS , August 1, 2011 (press release) – In an open letter to Disney President and CEO Robert Iger, the spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) slammed the family entertainment company for acting against the principles of Walt Disney and turning their backs on the needs of the poor and less privileged around the world.

Disney’s decision to source only FSC-certified products is a retreat on its mission to provide low cost entertainment service to families across the world. Disney’s “FSC-Only” policy will exacerbate global poverty levels and will not help Disney achieve its environmental objectives. FSC’s condition of only certifying products from land converted before 1994 denies the developing world access to the global market for its goods, reduces opportunities to raise living standards and creates inequality in this world today.

“Disney has undermined its treasured brand as a force for positive social change and equality for people globally. I strongly encourage Disney to take into account the world’s poor communities and consider the consequences of this policy change,” said Niger Innis, spokesman of the Congress of Racial Equality and author of CORE’s new report, Stop the War on the Poor – FSC and NGOs: Environmental Mythology.

“Disney is forewarned, in a recent report by CORE, we find FSC has not lived up to its own standards they claim. Far from its alleged motto as the ‘gold-standard for responsible forest management,’ FSC is seriously flawed. FSC products contain tropical forest species such as red lauan (shorea), a species listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Disney has therefore failed to protect the environment and at the same time risked the economic livelihoods of thousands of families.

“Unfortunately, Disney is micro-managing the sovereign right of poorer countries to develop their economies as they see fit. The U.S. prospered rapidly throughout the 18th and 19th centuries by developing its rural forest land for timber and other consumer products, which in turn generated millions of new jobs. Why is Disney – in its exclusive endorsement of FSC – now denying the developing world of these same opportunities?

“CORE has long provided a voice for the voiceless and fought for the civil rights of the poor and minority communities in the U.S. and overseas; big corporations like Disney should consider the reality of their policies before deciding the fate of the world’s poor,” Innis concluded.

In adopting the “FSC-Only” policy, Disney and Greenpeace have ignored truly independent and more reputable certification schemes such as Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) or Program for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC). CORE’s statement follows a new report on FSC – Stop the War on the Poor – FSC and NGOs: Environmental Mythology – that highlights how “Big Green” threatens companies and consumers into sourcing FSC-certified paper products, shackles developing economies into the poverty trap and raises costs for consumers in the U.S., particularly America’s disadvantaged, minority communities.

CORE is the acronym for the Congress of Racial Equality. Founded in 1942, CORE is the third-oldest and one of the ‘Big Four’ civil rights groups in the United States. From the protests against Jim Crow laws of the 40's through the sit-ins of the 50's, the Freedom Rides of the 60's, the cries for Self-Determination in the 70's, Equal Opportunity in the 80's, Community Development in the 90's, to the demand for equal access to information, CORE has championed true equality. As the ‘shock troops’ and pioneers of the civil rights movement, CORE has paved the way for the nation to follow.

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