Monsanto Shareholders Defeat Resolutions for More Transparency

Monsanto_Alex_Baden-MayerMonsanto continues to stand its ground against disclosing information about the costs associated with the genetically modified crop (GMO) industry. On Jan. 28, Monsanto shareholders, at the urging of the company’s board, overwhelmingly defeated two resolutions that would have increased transparency about Monsanto products.

One resolution, re-filed by Harrington Investments Inc., called for the board to issue a report detailing the financial risks and operational impacts related to certain GMO production. The issues included the costs of “seed contamination of non-GMO crops” and “damage to farmers’ reputations, livelihood and standing in the community” resulting from lawsuits that have ensued with neighboring farmers.

John Harrington, CEO and president of Harrington Investments, charged that the board “increasingly keeps stakeholders in the dark, about the true financial risks of GMOs … The corporation spends an incredible amount of shareholder money to prevent American consumers from knowing the extent to which it controls our national food supply.”

More than 60 countries around the world ban GMO-grown food. Others have taken actions to limit Monsanto’s investments, such as in Malvinas Argentinas in northern Argentina, where a labor appeals court just ruled that the construction of a Monsanto plant was unconstitutional. Harrington said that wheat shipments to Japan were refused at one point after inspectors found a rogue GMO-infected grain in the shipment.

Recent polls in the U.S. show that as much as 90 percent of Americans want GMO foods identified and to have “the option to consume non-GMO products.”

Backing up Harrington’s statement was a petition signed by more than 160,000 people calling for more transparency about Monsanto’s procedures.

The other resolution called for Monsanto to work with federal regulators to establish GMO labeling standards.

The resolution calling for a risk report received 6.51 percent of the vote, while the resolution calling for the company to work with federal regulators received 4.16 percent of the vote.

Despite the defeat of both resolutions, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant conceded that, “There is a recognition that we need to do more.” Whether that means that the company will actually work with the federal government to establish guidelines for GMO food labeling is yet to be seen. If Grant’s comments on the matter are anything to go by, it isn’t likely however. While the company supports voluntarily labeling, he said, it was Monsanto’s position that GMO labels could confuse consumers.

The company and those who have invested their money in Monsanto’s future are becoming increasingly aware, however, that consumers want more transparency and more ability to decide whether to buy GMO products.

“The momentum is clearly turning against Monsanto, and I think the company owes the shareholders a detailed explanation of what this is really costing the bottom line,” said Harrington.

Image credits: Alexis Baden-Mayer

Jan Lee

Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.

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