At Annual General Meeting Tuesday, Monsanto Board Rejects Shareholder Resolutions Urging GMO Transparency
MISSOURI -- On Tuesday, January 28th, at Monsanto’s annual general meeting, shareholders voted down a resolution submitted by John Harrington of Harrington Investments, Inc. asking the company to disclose the true costs of its genetically-modified organisms (GMO) business.
Reacting to the vote, Harrington said he is not at all surprised by the outcome. “We’ve been at this for 20 years, and this is only one day of many, and we will inevitably accomplish our goal of increasing transparency and social responsibility.”
The resolution, co-filed with Green Century Funds, was presented on behalf of Harrington by Margot McMillen, a member of the Executive Council of the National Family Farm Coalition and a board member of Missouri Rural Crisis Center. The resolution received 6.51 percent of the shareholder votes.
“This year has been unprecedented for advocacy, thanks to the dedication of an incredible coalition of organizations and individuals,” Harrington continued. “And through the work of Adam Eidinger, there were two resolutions and presentations this year for shareholders to consider.”
A second proposal, authored by Eidinger and presented by Dave Murphy of Food Democracy Now, gathered enough votes to remain on next year’s proxy ballot.
In events leading up to the shareholder meeting, Harrington and Green Century partnered with the Pesticide Action Network, Food & Water Watch, and SumOfUs.org to engage and inform shareholders and other stakeholders about the vote with an advertisement in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
VIEW THE AD HERE: www.sumofus.org/monsantoproxy
During the meeting McMillen presented to Monsanto’s Board of Directors a petition, authored by SumofUs.org, in support of the Harrington resolution, signed by more than 160,000 concerned consumers and farmers from around the world.
VIEW THE PETITION: http://www.sumofus.org/MonsantoAGM
In her presentation, McMillen emphasized the numerous risks to Monsanto posed by GMO operations including the loss of customers as younger farmers increasingly turn toward non-GMO farming and buying seeds from new companies.
More importantly, McMillen said, Monsanto had “squandered the trust” of many thousands of farmers, by sending them onto “pesticide treadmill”. “I was there,” she said. “A couple of decades ago Monsanto assured farmers [pesticide] resistance would be a non-issue.”
According to the Pesticide Action Network, there are now more than 60 million acres of Monsanto RoundUp-resistant “superweeds” taking over U.S. countryside.
Responding to the resolution, Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant stated while the Board of Directors had “carefully considered” Harrington’s request, it eventually concluded the company sufficiently complies with laws addressing a corporation’s responsibility to disclose financial risk to shareholders.
Grant said the company has “learned a lot since last shareholder meeting,” and says the company intends to “listen and engage more” with stakeholders and consumers.
“I’m glad to hear Mr. Grant is ready to engage, because we’ll be back next year,” Harrington concluded.