Monday, January 27, 2014

Shareholder Resolution Calls on Monsanto to Disclose Financial Risks from GMOs
Harrington Investments, Inc. (HII) has re-filed a shareholder resolution calling for the Monsanto Corporation (MON) to disclose the real financial risks to shareholders and other stakeholders for producing genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) over the past two decades.

“Monsanto increasingly keeps stakeholders in the dark, about the true financial risks of GMOs,” said John Harrington, President/CEO of HII.
“Crop contamination is wreaking havoc on people’s livelihoods, and we’ve seen reports that GMO’s are in 75% of our food supply.  The corporation spends an incredible amount of shareholder money to prevent American consumers from knowing the extent to which it controls our national food supply.”
The resolution specifically asks Monsanto’s Board of Directors to prepare a report assessing the actual and potential financial risks posed by the company’s GMO operations, from the cost of anti-GMO labeling campaigns to the devastating fallout of crop contamination hitting farmers around the world.
Recent polls show more than 90% of Americans want to know if their food contains GMO’s and want the option to consume non-GMO products.  And while more than half of the U.S. states are trying to prepare labeling laws, Monsanto is spending tens of millions of dollars in anti-labeling campaign efforts—more than $15 million in just California and Washington alone.  The annual $6 million Monsanto spends lobbying is more than any other entity in the industry.
“Add to that the hundreds of millions spent in legal fees chasing after small farmers whose land is unwillingly contaminated with Monsanto products, and the millions farmers are spending to protect themselves, and you have a corporate empire financially committed to denying the reality of what’s happened to our food supply,” Harrington continued.
In the company’s proxy statement opposing the Resolution, Monsanto stated the corporation already complies with laws addressing a corporation’s responsibility to disclose financial risk to shareholders.  According to Monsanto, preparing the risk report HII is calling for “would be redundant and provide no meaningful additional information to shareowners.”
Harrington disagrees, noting corporate disclosure documents do not adequately inform shareholders, stock analysts or rating agencies of the numerous risks facing the company.
“I think the end of the GMO-secrecy campaign will be here sooner rather than later,” Harrington said.  “We have farmers heading to the Supreme Court taking on Monsanto’s bullying tactics; we have farmers who don’t even plant crops for fear of contamination; and we have farmers who are afraid that in the near future we won’t even have non-GMO seeds to plant.”
GMO products are currently banned or restricted in over 60 countries.  US wheat sales to Japan and Korea were recently rejected after a rogue Monsanto GMO was found growing among non-modified export crops in the US Northwest.
“The momentum is clearly turning against Monsanto, and I think the company owes the shareholders a detailed explanation of what this is really costing the bottom line,” Harrington concluded.
Harrington Investments, Inc is a 30-year old registered investment advisory firm based in the Napa Valley, California, managing approximately $180 million in assets.  The firm manages individual and institutional accounts utilizing a comprehensive social and environmental screen, while engaging in shareholder advocacy, challenging corporate management on key social, environmental, and corporate governance policies.

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