Socially Responsible Investor Demands Monsanto Company Allow Cameras Inside Annual Shareholder Meeting
GMO Food Protests Outside Monsanto 2013 Annual Shareholder Meeting
CREVE COEUR, Mo., Dec. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Occupy-Monsanto.com -- On Thursday, January 31, 2013, the Monsanto Company officers and shareholders will vote on a shareholder proposal to create a study of "material financial risks or operational impacts" associated with its chemical products and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). However, the public does not currently have the right to witness what will be the only democratic vote of accountability on Monsanto's leadership because the company bans cameras inside their Annual Shareholder Meeting.
"Monsanto pledges transparency, but provides very little," says Adam Eidinger, an organic food activist and Monsanto shareholder who organized a march from NY to Washington DC on behalf of honest food labeling in 2011. For the second year in a row, Eidinger will present a shareholder resolution on behalf of Napa, California-based Harrington Investments (HII) with help from the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA).
Monsanto Company's website has a page titled "Our Pledge" which includes a section that says: "Transparency: We will ensure that information is available, accessible, and understandable." ( http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/pages/monsanto-pledge.aspx )
"By keeping cameras out of their Annual Shareholder Meeting, Monsanto is not fulfilling its pledge to shareholders who are unable to attend, the majority of Americans who are eating the products created by Monsanto Company's patented technology, farmers who are keen to know about future plans of their seed & herbicide provider, and members of the media who report on the company," says Eidinger.
Last year Eidinger was forced to sneak an undercover camera into the Annual Shareholder Meeting because safe food activists were concerned about Monsanto Company's lack of transparency. The grainy footage has been viewed more than 50,000 times (see here) "I shouldn't be required to break the rules in order to uphold Monsanto Company's pledge of transparency," says Eidinger.
The shareholder proposal Eidinger will speak for represents one of the strongest signals to date that the Monsanto Company is facing growing consumer, legal, and regulatory uncertainties. From spending over 8 million dollars to prevent labeling of genetically engineered foods in California to the upcoming Supreme Court case Bowman v. Monsanto, the Company must become more transparent and that begins with being transparent with its shareholders.
The Annual Shareholder Meeting itself is only open to shareholders but concerned citizens will be demonstrating outside the northeast entrance to Monsanto Company's Creve Coeur campus beginning at 12:00 noon. The Monsanto Company headquarters is located at 800 North Lindberg Boulevard in St. Louis, MO.
"When people say 'evil corporation,' it's Monsanto that first comes to mind for many activists," says Gene Crimes, an anonymous activist with Occupy Monsanto. "Until Monsanto changes its strong-armed tactics, they should expect more protests in the future." In 2012 there were over 100 demonstrations against the Monsanto Company around the world, including protests on five different Hawaiian islands, three at Monsanto Company's headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri along with 60 others across the US. In Argentina, Japan, Poland, Canada, Peru, Philippines, Spain, and numerous others countries people protested at Monsanto Company offices on September 17, 2012. Seven people are currently facing criminal charges from blockading Monsanto Company's Oxnard, California facility from shipping GMO seeds to farmers for 6 hours.
"Last fall Monsanto showed that it can subvert the democratic process by spending millions of dollars to spread lies," says Gene Crimes. By spending over 45 million dollars to prevent GMO labeling in California's Proposition 37, Monsanto and other biotechnology & processed food companies outspent their opposition by a factor of 5 to 1. "If Monsanto is so proud of its products, why are they spending millions of dollars to keep Americans in the dark about what they are eating."
AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEWS
Eidinger will be available for interview before and after the Annual Shareholder Meeting, to which he will drive in a "Label GMO Foods" art car. Representatives from HII and PANNA will be also available for interview before and after the Annual Shareholder Meeting. Eidinger's remarks will be available by request.
In its statement recommending shareholders to vote against the HII resolution, Monsanto management said that, "Farmers should have the freedom to choose the production method best suited for their environments, markets and needs, whether organic, non-GM conventional, or products improved through biotechnology. All of the agricultural systems can and do work effectively side by side."
John Harrington, CEO of Harrington Investments questions the veracity of Monsanto's statement: "While I am heartened by Monsanto's sudden concern for the freedom of farmers, 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. With the rise of Round-Up resistant 'superweeds' the company is simply telling farmers to spray even more toxic herbicides including 2,4 D, the main ingredient in Agent Orange. Many people are struggling to avoid GMO's and chemicals used on them in the food they eat due to serious health and environmental concerns, yet Americans have no right to know what we are eating largely due to the close ties Monsanto has to President Obama's USDA, EPA, and FDA, which have not satisfied more than 1 million Americans who have signed on to the JustLabelIt.org's petition to the FDA."
More information at http://Occupy-Monsanto.com .