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January 23, 2012
Harrington Investments Requests that Monsanto Report on GMOs
    by Robert Kropp

The chemical giant refuses to allow a proxy to speak on behalf of the shareowner resolution at tomorrow's annual general meeting, and Harrington joins in call for demonstrations.


Monsanto will hold its annual general meeting (AGM) in St. Louis tomorrow, January 24th. The customary practice at such meetings is to allow shareowners to speak on behalf of resolutions they have filed. But at this year's meeting, the voice of an important sustainable investment firm will not be heard.

In August, Harrington Investments (HII) submitted a shareowner resolution at Monsanto, requesting that the chemical company report on "material financial risks or operational impacts" associated with its products, especially genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

GMOs are plants created through genetic engineering. Although they are restricted or banned in many countries, in the US there is not even mandatory labeling of products containing GMOs. There have been widespread concerns about the health risks associated with consumption of genetically engineered food.

When HII introduced the resolution, John Harrington, President and CEO, said, "Just because the United States Department of Agriculture permits a product to be sold, does not mean that it is safe, and as costs of justifying and defending these products mount, investors need adequate information to assess associated financial risks themselves."

According to HII, Monsanto was sued last year by eighty-three family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations, seeking legal protection from the threat of being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement, should their crops or property become contaminated by Monsanto's GMOs.

Notwithstanding the concerns of investors and others, Monsanto informed Harrington on January 20th that it will not recognize his proxy, who was to speak on his behalf in support of the resolution for three minutes, at its AGM.

Monsanto has recommended that shareowners vote against the resolution, stating, "Farmers should have the freedom to choose which production method is best suited for their needs."

In response, Harrington said, "The unfortunate reality facing American farmers right now is that genetic drift from GMO crops is contaminating their conventional and organic crops. This can be disastrous because many GMO crops cannot be sold to important markets, such as Europe, China and Japan. The potential legal implications for Monsanto are staggering."

Harrington has joined with the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and the Pesticide Action Network in calling for a demonstration at tomorrow's AGM. OCA Organizer Mike Durschmid said, "If Monsanto were to be held liable for costs associated with its products, shareholders would see their accounts dramatically reduced. We intend to inform them of this."

 

 
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