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Monsanto Shareholders Ask Company To Expand GMO Disclosures

Group provides resolution asking Monsanto to disclose costs of GMO business

Published on: Jan 28, 2014

A group of Monsanto investors led by Harrington Investments said Monday they will present a resolution asking the company to disclose the cost of its genetically modified organism business at its annual meeting scheduled for Tuesday in St. Louis, Mo.

The group boasts about 150,000 signatures on a petition that supports the shareholder resolution, which was co-filed by Green Century Capital Management.

The resolution specifically asks Monsanto's Board of Directors to "prepare a report, at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information, assessing actual and potential material financial risks or operational impacts on the Company related to these GMO issues, including:

Group provides resolution asking Monsanto to disclose costs of GMO business
Group provides resolution asking Monsanto to disclose costs of GMO business

*Seed contamination of non-GMO crops, including costs of seed replacement, crop and production losses and clean up, decontamination and continued testing of affected seeds;
*On-going buffer zone control, including production acreage losses and on-going maintenance required to secure or maintain access to contamination-sensitive markets,
*Crop, production, and post-harvest losses and associated costs of market rejections, including temporary or permanent market losses resulting from GMO contamination;
*Loss of organic or other third-party certification due to GMO contamination and any costs associated with additional, record-keeping, testing or surveillance required to regain certification or retain certification on impacted operations;
*Removal and destruction of contaminated GMO plants;
*Soil contamination and on-going related mitigation and remediation costs; and
*Damage to farmers’ reputations, livelihood, and standing in the community."

Leslie Samuelrich, president of Green Century Capital Management, said the resolution was filed because of concern from consumers, scientists, and farmers about the long-term and unknown impacts of GMOs in the food supply.

"Given the unprecedented control this single corporation has over our food system, it is absolutely critical that Monsanto transparently reports how it is managing the unknown and potentially damaging impacts of its product on human health and the environment," she said.

Monsanto is recommending a no vote on the resolution, which will be up for vote on Tuesday.  According to a proxy statement housed on the company's investor website, the board says existing processes and procedures are in already in place that are intended to ensure compliance with SEC disclosure requirements relating to the topics raised by the groups' resolution.

"An additional report, as suggested by the proponent, to restate material risks or operational impacts would be redundant and provide no meaningful additional information to shareowners," the proxy statement says.

The groups, however, claim that Monsanto is trying to defeat the vote using "the same tactics it uses to defeat all opposition to its agenda," said Lisa Lindsley, Senior Shareholder Advocacy Manager for SumOfUs.org, the website hosting the petition.

"Its business model is based on keeping us all in the dark," Lindsley added.