On Tuesday, one of the world’s largest pesticide and biotech companies — Monsanto Corporation — held its annual general meeting in St. Louis. While protestors outside Monsanto headquarters highlighted growing public disenchantment with the industry giant and its genetically engineered products, investors in the meeting were voting on a shareholder resolution from PAN and Harrington Investments.
If passed, the resolution would require Monsanto to report on all financial risks and impacts, including contamination of neighboring crops, associated with its GE/pesticide seed package.
Bright spots in 2011 for Monsanto notwithstanding (Uncle Sam gave the company a sweet holiday gift package in December), there was much for shareholders attending the St. Louis meeting to be concerned about: the impending demise of Monsanto's enormously profitable RoundUp-Ready pesticide/GE seed line; growing numbers of irate farmers and mounting negative publicity over the company’s role in creating superweeds and superbugs now afflicting millions of acres of farmland across the country; surging consumer demand for labeling of GE foods (95% want it); and a share value that has ricocheted wildly between $58 and $78 over the past 6 months.
It is only going to get worse.— Lee Van Wychen, director of science policy, Weed Science Society of America, referring to the superweed epidemic.
In presenting PAN's resolution, we argued that shareholders should take seriously the looming consequences of the risky behavior of the biotech titan. Monsanto’s refusal to acknowledge the evolutionary realities of developed resistance to, and genetic contamination from its ubiquitous GE product lines signaled years ago the company’s complete lack of foresight and accountability.
Recent court cases and investigations illustrate the type of liabilities now on the table:
It’s not just the financially unstable house of cards or the volatility in Monsanto’s share price that’s at issue. The company’s entire approach to agriculture has violated basic and well-understood laws of nature, and the ecological repercussions of corporate hubris and greed are now coming fast and furiously.
Isn't it about time to stop rearranging chairs on the Transgenic Titanic?