When GMO labeling advocates learned that Monsanto's annual shareholder meeting would include consideration of two measures that would have required more transparency about Monsanto and its genetically modified seeds, they were thrilled.
In essence, the two resolutions--backed by more than 2 million members of popular environmental, food safety and consumer activist groups--asked Monsanto to provide a report on contamination of non-GMO crops and to stop its fight against GMO labeling.
Finally, a chance to ask Monsanto shareholders to respect consumer wishes! Protesters gathered outside Monsanto's headquarters during the annual meeting last week, hoping to appeal to the common sense and compassion of the shareholders, since the company itself has neither.
"We are asking for shareholders to vote in favor of transparency," said Margot McMillen, a Missouri farmer and member of the executive council of the National Family Farm Coalition who introduced one of the resolutions, during the protest.
Unfortunately, once behind closed doors, Monsanto officials recommended rejection of the proposals. Monsanto shareholders ultimately followed suit, choosing to stay in the closet with the company's skeletons, rather than label the genetically-engineered products of which it claims to be so proud.
"One of the resolutions put to shareholders sought a report on seed contamination of non-GMO crops, including costs of seed replacement, and crop and production losses, including losses associated with market rejections. That measure gathered 6.51 percent of the vote," reported Reuters.
"A related shareholder resolution called on the company to work with government regulators to set a standard threshold for foods containing GMO ingredients that should be labeled. That garnered 4.16 percent of the vote."
It's unlikely that this rejection will slow the grassroots push against Monsanto, especially when it comes to GMO labeling. “Despite Monsanto spending millions to squelch it in California, Washington and elsewhere, the public demand for transparency about GMOs is only growing,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch in a statement. “On the other end of the spectrum, more and more organic and non-GMO farmers are dealing with contamination, and often chemical drift, from nearby GMO farms and must be compensated when they are economically harmed by this unwanted GMO presence. Monsanto shareholders have every right to know the costs and business risks associated with Monsanto’s GMO products.”
Monsanto's only response to the protest and failed resolutions was that it "prompted them to rethink how they communicate about their products." According to Reuters, Chairman Hugh Grant acknowledged that the company 'has not done a good job winning public trust,' and told shareholders at the meeting that the company was 'changing its approach.'
Translation: more slick public relations work meant to misinform and confuse. Don't worry Monsanto, we'll be ready.
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