The shareholders claimed that the company has spent millions on combatting rules that would require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients, and that there is growing public concern over GMOs.
They also wanted a report on contamination of non-GMO crops by Monsanto seeds. Since farm crops are not raised in a hermetically sealed bubble, it’s inevitable that seeds from a farm raising crops from Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds will end up in other farmers’ fields. This is a concern both for those who don’t want GMO products and want to be sure they are buying and consuming non-GMO foods.
Monsanto has also been known to sue farmers whose crops have become tainted by its seeds, claiming these farmers are getting the supposed benefits of Monsanto products without paying for it (even when the farmers don’t want the Monsanto seeds).
“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 earlier this week. “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.”
A second resolution called on the company to work with federal regulators to set standards for foods containing GMO ingredients that should be labeled.
At the meeting, it wasn’t terribly surprising that Monsanto officials recommended that shareholders reject the activist resolutions, and the shareholders followed suit, voting overwhelmingly against both proposals.
Monsanto Chairman Hugh Grant (no, not that Hugh Grant) paid lip service to the idea of heeding the message of these resolutions, though his and the company’s stance appears to be that the public is merely misinformed about GMO seeds.
“There is a recognition that we need to do more,” said Grant.
The company also claims that it has safeguards in place to prevent cross-contamination with non-GMO crops.
Reuters reports that one of the dozen or so protestors outside today’s meeting was arrested.