This is a Call to Action for a
Non-Hierarchical Occupation of Monsanto Everywhere
Whether you like it or not, chances are Monsanto contaminated the food you ate today with chemicals and unlabeled GMOs. Monsanto controls much of the world's food supply at the expense of food democracy worldwide. This site is dedicated to empowering citizens of the world to take action against Monsanto & it's enablers like the FDA, USDA, EPA, GMA, BIO, and the processed food companies that use Monsanto's products.
Proxy Item No. 4: Shareowner Proposal One
This proposal was submitted by Adam Eidinger, Washington, D.C. As of July 30, 2013, Mr. Eidinger indicated that he held 75 shares of Monsanto common stock. The proposal has been carefully considered by the board of directors, which has concluded that its adoption would not be in the best interests of the company or its shareowners. For the reasons stated after the proposal, the board recommends a vote “Against” the shareowner proposal.
The proposal and supporting statement are presented as received from the shareowner proponent in accordance with the rules of the SEC, and the board of directors and the company disclaim any responsibility for its content. We will furnish, orally or in writing as requested, the address of the proponent of this shareowner proposal promptly upon written or oral request directed to the company’s Secretary.
Information regarding the inclusion of proposals in Monsanto’s proxy statement can be found on page 82 under Shareowner Proposals for 2015 Annual Meeting.
- Genetic engineering is the direct manipulation of an organism’s genome using biotechnology.
- For thousands of years, mankind has modified plants through grafting, artificial selection, and without the use of genetic engineering.
- Transgenic DNA produced through modern genetic engineering is not found in natural foods and was not in the food supply of previous generations of mankind.
- Americans have the right to know what they are eating.
- U.S. law does not require the labeling of patented biotechnology in foods sold in grocery stores.
- Company stands by its products and believes they are safe.
- Due to the uncertainty regarding the potential negative side effects of genetic engineering on humans, animals, and the environment, it is imperative that the Company be transparent with customers concerning our labeling efforts.
- The Company’s Pledge  says that we will ensure that “information is available, accessible, and understandable.”
- Transparency provides consumers the power to decide what kind of foods are grown on farms and served on dinner tables.
- Over 60 countries around the world have regulations concerning the labeling of foods produced using genetic engineering.
- In 2002, the Company said “Food Labeling. It has Monsanto’s Full Backing” in regards to the labeling of genetically engineered foods in the United Kingdom.
- In 2013, there was legislation introduced in over two dozen U.S. state legislatures concerning the labeling of foods created using genetic engineering.
- The state legislatures of Connecticut and Maine have passed legislation requiring foods sold in those states to be labeled if they were produced using genetic engineering, but only 4 or more other New England states pass similar legislation.
- The Company spent $8,112,866.55 in 2012 to prevent California residents from voting to increase transparency in their state’s food labels.
- As of July 2013, the Company has spent $242,156.25 to prevent Washington state residents from voting to increase transparency in their state’s food labels.
- The money spent by the Company to prevent legislation that discloses whether food produced using genetic engineering dilutes shareowners earnings per share.
- The Company believes that nationwide regulations are needed to prevent 56 different state & territory food labeling laws.
RESOLVED: The Monsanto Board shall prepare a report, at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information, assessing any material financial risks or operational potential impacts on the Company in order to:
- Work with the FDA to develop food labeling guidelines for American consumers that discloses whether genetic engineering was used to produce the food;
- Work with the FDA to develop standard threshold of 0.9% or higher for foods created with genetic engineering
- Analyze the inclusion of U.S. patent numbers on American food labels where patented biotechnology was used to produce the food;
The report shall be available by July 1, 2014 and be posted online on our Company’s website. In order to ensure that our Company upholds its pledge of transparency, we urge a vote FOR this resolution.
 “Our Pledge” – Transparency: http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/Pages/monsanto-pledge.aspx
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS A VOTE “AGAINST” THE FOREGOING PROPOSAL FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
Food is one of the most important and significant facets of our world. It is a critically important issue to everyone and is the focus of debates and dialogues from the halls of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, to the grocery store aisles in Buenos Aires, to the open markets in Cairo. There are diverse points of views on everything from food security, to subsidies, to sustainable intensification, to loss and waste, to distribution systems and even to labeling. It matters to people where food comes from, how it is produced, and how food safety is ensured. As a seed company that participates in the agriculture food value chain, we are actively listening to and participating with others in this dialogue about food. In addition:
- Our work in agriculture represents just one component of a broad and diverse food value chain that involves many parties. The proponent is seeking a report about the impact of the company’s working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to effect a change in labeling on consumer food products. These are not Monsanto products nor are they manufactured, controlled, packaged or labeled by our company. We sell seed to farmers, who often sell their crop harvest to a grain processor, who sells grain or ingredients to a food company, who may further process the ingredients, then manufacture the food item, which it then sells to a retailer, who ultimately sells the finished product to a consumer. As a company that is focused on agricultural productivity and which sells products to farmers our position in the chain does not afford us the expertise that would inform an assessment of consumer food packaging information.
- Genetically modified (GM) crops are but one important tool that farmers may choose in engaging in sustainable agriculture. Farmers, whether they adopt conventional, GM or organic seeds, employ a variety of production practices to control weeds and pests and improve the yield of their crops. In order to reduce the need for topical controls or other practices, millions of farmers around the world choose to control weeds and pests, and protect their crops’ yield, through GM seeds, which incorporate a new gene in the seed, such as a protein from a bacterium that is commonly applied over the top of conventional and organic crops to control pests.
- We support current FDA guidance on food labeling which is based on the attributes of the food itself. In the United States, the FDA regulates the safety and labeling of foods and food products derived from crops (conventional, GM, and organic), and all must meet the same safety requirements. FDA guidance requires labeling of food products containing ingredients derived from GM crops if there is a meaningful difference in composition, nutrition or safety between that food and its counterpart derived from conventional crops. In the absence of such a difference, the FDA has determined that mandatory labeling is not required. The American Medical Association (AMA) supports the FDA’s approach and approved a formal statement asserting that there is no scientific justification for special labeling of foods containing GM ingredients. FDA guidance does not require labeling of production practices used by farmers employing conventional or organic methods to control weeds and pests and improve their yields.
- We support voluntary labeling to support consumer choice, provided the label is truthful and not misleading. We recognize that some consumers may prefer to avoid foods that contain GM ingredients. Food companies recognize this as well, and are providing these customers the choices they prefer through organic offerings or by voluntarily labeling their products “non-GM”. People who prefer to purchase non-GM foods can easily find such products. The FDA allows food manufacturers to label their products voluntarily to indicate certain attributes or production methods (e.g., organic, conventional or GM), provided the label is truthful and not misleading. We support this approach and are pleased to sell our seed products to farmers employing any of these production methods. For more information about our views on consumer choice and proposals that would mandate labeling of food products containing GM ingredients, please visit http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/food-labeling.aspx.
- We believe that mandatory labeling of GM ingredients where there is no meaningful difference in nutrition or safety could confuse and mislead consumers. Demands for mandatory labeling of GM ingredients as a matter of consumer choice may instead lead to a reduction in consumer choice by misleading consumers into thinking products bearing such a label are not safe, are less nutritious or are otherwise inferior to similar products without the label. Indeed, the pejorative connotation of a mandatory label could result in consumers viewing it as a warning statement that could scare them about the foods they have come to like and trust. The suggestion advanced in the proposal is that the company should advocate for the proponent’s preference for labeling consumer food products, which is contrary to the position we have stated publicly and contrary to the views of our customers and the food value chain.
- We support transparency and dialogue about biotechnology and our products, both with our customers and with consumers. In the United States, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, of which the company is a member, recognizes that some consumers may have questions about GM production methods and food ingredients and is providing information through a dedicated website, http://factsaboutgmos.org/. This site informs readers that if the ingredient label on a food or beverage in the U.S. indicates that the product contains corn or soy, the product most likely contains ingredients derived from GM seeds because a very high percentage of corn and soy in the United States is grown from GM seed products. In addition, www.monsanto.com, provides extensive information about biotechnology benefits and safety, generally, and Monsanto’s genetically modified seed products, specifically. Recently, Monsanto has worked with other seed companies to make additional information about agricultural biotechnology available to interested consumers. The website GMOanswers (http://www.gmoanswers.com) invites consumers to ask questions about agricultural biotechnology. General safety and benefits questions are addressed by independent experts; company-specific questions are addressed by company representatives.
- Assessing the inclusion of U.S. patent numbers related to biotechnology on American food labels is unrelated to our business and such labeling would likely be disruptive to the food supply chain. The consumer food product labels that the proposal suggests analyzing are unrelated to our business of selling seed products to farmers. The proposed assessment would provide no meaningful information to shareowners. The proposal appears to suggest that the inclusion of patent numbers on product labels might serve as indicia that a product contains ingredients derived from GM seeds. The food manufacturer would then be burdened with significant compliance challenges if required to specifically identify the variety of seeds that produced grain that was ultimately processed in the food. Given the extensive pre-commercial food safety assessment and regulatory reviews by government officials, the U.S. food system operates effectively and efficiently in managing commodity crops, such as corn, soy and cotton. A separate program would be required to harvest, crush, store, transport and process by particular seed varieties, in order to enable labeling to that level of specificity, and would undermine the system.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS
A VOTE “AGAINST”
THIS SHAREOWNER PROPOSAL
AND YOUR PROXY WILL BE SO VOTED IF THE PROPOSAL IS PRESENTED
UNLESS YOU SPECIFY OTHERWISE
SOURCE: Page 76, Monsanto Company Proxy Statement, Securities and Exchange Commission
From sunset Friday, January 10 until at least 2am, January 11, 2014, safe food activists will be holding a nighttime vigil outside of the FDA’s Center For Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (5100 Paint Branch Pkwy College Park, MD 20740) to demand the FDA require mandatory labels for foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. Throughout the evening activists will be projecting crowdsourced food labels, photos, and videos submitted by concerned citizens from around the world on to the side of the FDA building.
WHAT TO BRING
This demonstration will be taking place at night in the middle of the winter and we anticipate COLD weather. Organizers will bring outdoor heaters and some blankets, but it is advised to bring hand & toe warmers, a warm winter jacket, wool socks, long underwear, blankets, folding chairs, flashlights, a tent & sleeping bag (if you plan on staying overnight), thermos of coffee or tea, signs, and the desire to get the FDA to require mandatory labels.
GETTING TO THE FDA
The FDA’s Center For Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is located at 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy College Park, MD 20740. The building is conveniently located across the street from the College Park Metro Station on the Green Line. We recommend using a SmarTrip card (available for purchase at any station, except Dulles & BWI airports) to bypass the $1 surcharge on paper tickets.
- If coming by car, there is street parking available near the building as well as a parking garage at the College Park Metro Station ($4.50 per day, credit card only)
- If coming by Bus or Train, take the Red Line from Union Station in the direction of Shady Grove to the Gallery Place Station, change trains to the Green Line (on the lower level) in the direction of Greenbelt, and get off at the College Park Station.
- If flying into Reagan National Airport, take the Yellow Line train in the direction of Fort Totten to the Gallery Place Station, change trains to the Green Line (on the lower level) in the direction of Greenbelt, and get off at the College Park Station.
- If flying into Dulles International Airport, take 5A Bus ($6 exact fare – pickup located at Curb 2E) to the L’Enfant Metro Station, take the Green Line in the direction of Greenbelt, and get off at the College Park Station.
- If flying into BWI Airport, take the B30 Bus ($6 exact fare – pickups located at Concorse A and E. Follow the signs that say “Public Transit”) to the Greenbelt Metro Station, take the Metro one stop and get off at the College Park Station.
The Washington Metro runs until around 2am and restarts at 7am on Saturday morning.
We know that it may be difficult for many of you to attend in person, but you can still participate by submitting your photos, videos, and mock gmo food labels (upload form below). If you can’t attend in person, please select “Maybe” on the Facebook event page and invite all your friends. If you can come, please select “Going” and invite your friends!
Some questions to ponder:
- What does GMO labeling mean to you? What would a GMO label look like?
- How would you like to label the FDA? Do you have video of your March Against Monsanto you’d like to share?
- Do you have photos from your city’s March Against Monsanto you think would look nice projected on to the building?
Think it over!
In order to prepare the multimedia for projection on Friday, January 10, the window to upload graphics ended on Wednesday, January 8. THANK YOU to everyone who contributed!
Check out the Photos & Videos from our last visit to the FDA’s Center For Food Safety and Applied Nutrition last April!
Millions protest genetically modified food, Monsanto, organizers say
Two million people in more than 50 countries marched over the weekend in protest against a company called Monsanto, organizers claimed. CNN could not independently verify those numbers.
Monsanto is a giant, $58 billion multinational corporation with field offices in 60 countries. It was founded more than 100 years ago – and is best known for producing the chemical known as Agent Orange that scorched thousands of miles of earth during the Vietnam war.
Monsanto currently produces pesticides designed to deliver a death blow to living things, and also produces seeds designed to resist those lethal chemicals.
Now the company, with a history of questionable ethics practices and close ties to the government, may have received protection from future trouble. Slipped into a bill signed by President Barack Obama back in March is something called the “Monsanto Protection Act,” which would shield Monsanto seeds and other genetically modified crops approved by the Agriculture Department to be grown – even if there is action in the courts against them.
The weekend protest was focused on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. GMOs are plants, bacteria, and animals whose genetic makeup has been scientifically altered.
Some opponents want GMOs banned, others say foods whose DNA has been changed needs to at least be labeled.
Monsanto is a leading producer of genetically modified seeds and herbicides. In the last quarter alone it sold seed – much of it modified – worth more than $4 billion. The company said their business helps to feed the planet.
“It’s a vision that strives to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population,” said a Monsanto ad.
Some of the outrage was sparked by shocking photos showing massive tumors that developed on rats that ate genetically modified corn over a lifetime.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Caen, France. It has been criticized by many in the scientific community, and by the European food safety authority, who said it is simply not up to scientific standards.
Even so, the disturbing tumor photos lead many to question their own standards about what exactly they are eating.
But consumers have no way of knowing if they are eating genetically modified food, or feeding it to their family.
Last week, U.S. senators debated whether states could require food labeling for products with genetically engineered ingredients. The legislation, introduced by Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, failed.
“When you take on very powerful biotech companies like Monsanto and large food corporations, who, in many ways, would prefer that people not know what is in the food that they produce, they’re very powerful,” said Sanders. “They were able to gather a whole lot of support in the Senate.”
On its website, Monsanto states, “plant biotechnology has been in use for over 15 years, without documented evidence of adverse effects on human or animal health or the environment.”
Legislators who sided with Monsanto say the company is improving on nature.
“I think it would more accurately be called a modern science to feed a very troubled and hungry world,” Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts said on the Senate floor last week.
But Sanders said the company, and others like it, need to be more transparent, and that slipping protection for Monsanto into that March bill was wrong.
“People have a right to know what is in the food they’re eating,” said Sanders.
“You have deregulated the GMO industry from court oversight, which is really not what America is about. You should not be putting riders that people aren’t familiar with, in a major piece of legislation,” said Sanders.
Law or no law, grocery giant Whole Foods said they will start labeling all genetically modified food by 2018.
“The fact is there are no studies, as yet, linking GMO to health problems,”said Michael Moss, New York Times investigative reporter and author of “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.”
The flip side, said Moss, is there are few scientists doing that kind of research, and the agency in charge of GMOs is “the FDA, which has a real spotty record on food safety, which concerns people.”
At the moment, the issue appears to be evolving into a matter of disclosure.
“People care about what they’re putting into their bodies, and they want to know what is in the products that they’re eating, so they can make that decision,” said Moore.
Source: Senator Sanders Youtube + CNN
Approximately a week and a half after we sent our follow-up letter to the FDA Commissioner, we received this reply indicating our meeting request is being reviewed.
We anticipate another letter within the next few weeks. If we don’t receive one, we plan on contacting the FDA again…. to be continued…
Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993
April 29, 2013
Dear Commissioner Hamburg,
We sincerely appreciated the response from your secretary on April 4, concerning your inability to attend our demonstration outside the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition that took place on Monday, April 8. The demonstration was successful and generated numerous newspaper articles across the country.
We write today to request a meeting with you concerning the labeling of genetically engineered foods in America. We are aware that representatives from the FDA have attended similar meetings with representatives from the chemical and processed food industries, and we deserve the opportunity to meet and discuss our concerns. We are willing to accommodate your busy schedule and can meet on the date and time of your choosing in May, June, or July. Upon confirmation from your office, we intend to invite business leaders in the organic food industry who share our concerns related to labeling of genetically engineered foods.
As you know, last year there were over one million signatures submitted to your agency asking you to require mandatory labels for foods produced using modern genetic engineering techniques. However, we still have not received a thorough reply from the FDA regarding this petition. We have reviewed the statements on the FDA website, and have concluded that instituting mandatory labels for genetically engineered foods is currently within your power and that such implementing such a policy does not require Congressional action.
Your failure to allay the concerns of American consumers and respond to the petition has resulted in growing distrust of your agency. We interpret the FDA’s resolve to ignore the people’s overwhelming support of mandatory GMO labeling as demonstrative of your true priority: protecting corporate interests, rather than protecting consumers’ safety and our fundamental right to transparency in food labeling. If the FDA is to regain the trust of American consumers you must demonstrate real action and commitment to introducing GMO labeling policy. Our proposed meeting is the crucial first step in beginning that process.
Consumers want the FDA to reject the purported authority of arbitrary biotechnology corporations as providers of safety studies. We demand independent tests conducted by the FDA or respected researchers at universities. Moreover, consumers are concerned that the existing body of safety studies are woefully incomplete and do not reflect the data recorded over the entire lifespan of animals fed genetically engineered foods.
The biotechnology industry says that there have been over 3 trillion meals served using genetically engineered ingredients without any health issues. We believe this statement is misleading; it is impossible to trace any health effects due to the consumption of genetically engineered foods when there are no mandatory labels on genetically engineered foods. Conversely, since genetically engineered foods entered the American food supply in the late 1990s, there has been a noticeable increase in diabetes, asthma, autism, cancer, and stomach maladies in America. Some concerned consumers believe this unfortunate increase is the direct result of consuming genetically engineered foods. This anecdotal evidence is not based on science. However, unless consumers are given the opportunity to choose between foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients and those that don’t, the anecdotal evidence will continue to yield further speculation on the dangers of consuming genetically engineered foods.
We look forward to hearing from you.
GMO Policy Analyst