Walgreens' "no-action letter" to the SEC argues that the company can exclude the shareholder proposal because "the use of nanomaterials in products . . . does not involve a significant social policy issue." The company also claims its infant formula does not contain engineered nanomaterials, contrary to the independent laboratory testing.
"Walgreens is effectively silencing shareholder discussion of this subject," said Austin Wilson, Environmental Health Program Manager of shareholder advocacy group As You Sow. "If Walgreens had responded to consumers' and investors' concerns, there would be no need for shareholders to file a proposal."
"Shareholders will ultimately bear the burden of litigation if infants are harmed," said Danielle Fugere, President and Chief Counsel of As You Sow. "Walgreens' attempt to silence, rather than address, shareholder concerns raises red flags. To be successful, Walgreens must remain a trusted name for consumers and it can't do that by sweeping new health studies under the rug."
Nanoparticles are extremely small particles that can permeate cell membranes and travel throughout the body, including into organs, in ways that larger ingredients cannot. The extremely small size of nanoparticles may result in greater toxicity for human health and the environment.
The shareholder proposal asks the company to issue a report about actions the company is taking to reduce or eliminate the risk of nanoparticles.
In 2014, Dunkin' Donuts reached an agreement with As You Sow to remove the nanoparticle titanium dioxide from its donuts. Starbucks plans to remove it from all products by 2017, and Krispy Kreme is reformulating its products to exclude titanium dioxide and other nanoparticles.
CONTACT: Taraneh Arhamsadr, (510) 735-8157, email@example.com
As You Sow is a nonprofit that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility. www.asyousow.org.
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SOURCE As You Sow