While sales of Girl Scout cookies break records each year (last year they sold $714 million worth), a host of different groups take issue with the cookies. Some conservatives say cookie sales bolster a “radical, left-wing, anti-family, political agenda,” and some environmentalists are concerned about the use of unsustainable palm oil in some of the cookies. Any way you look at it, Girl Scout cookies can be a political hot topic.

The most recent problem that the Girl Scouts face is a petition on Change.org that asks the organization to commit to using ethical cocoa in its cookies.

Heidi Blanchard of Chico, Calif., started the petition after she learned that the cookies her 5-year-old daughter was supposed to sell are made with cocoa bought on the open market. The Girl Scouts are unable to pinpoint where the cocoa they buy is sourced from, and cocoa from the open market, says Blanchard, is often produced by exploited kids.

She cites a CNN report from 2012 that says that “some 70 to 75 percent of the world’s cocoa beans are grown on small farms in West Africa” and “in the Ivory Coast alone, there are an estimated 200,000 children working the fields, many as child slaves.”

In the petition Blanchard calls on the Girl Scouts to "start buying chocolate that isn’t tainted with atrocity and child slavery. By buying ethically sourced chocolate from companies like Equal Exchange or Divine, companies who are committed to sustainable farming and responsible social practices, the Girl Scouts could guarantee that slaves are not used in any part of the production of the chocolate.”

Right now the petition has about 2,330 of the 10,000 signatures it needs to be delivered to the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA as well as other high-ranking members of the organization.

The petition may have some impact. As I mentioned above, environmentalists have had a problem with the palm oil used in the cookies, but the Girl Scouts have announced they will be switching to sustainable palm oil by 2015, largely due to a campaign by two Girl Scouts two years ago that got a lot of attention. If this ethical cocoa petition gets a lot of attention, the Girl Scouts may need to make another change.

Do you think this petition will make a difference with how the Girl Scouts sources its cocoa, or do you think that increasing sales will tell the organization that people will buy anyway?

Related on MNN: Homemade versions of Girl Scout cookies

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