Tuesday was Monsanto’s annual shareholder meeting at the biotech company’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, where corporate changes were voted on – including a proposal to study the financial risks and impacts of Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops.
The proposal was submitted last August by Harrington Investments Inc. (HII), a socially responsible investment advisory firm and minority shareholder of Monsanto. The study was rejected, however, with most shareholders in attendance voting against it.
The defeat wasn’t much of a surprise. Monsanto recommended shareholders oppose the proposal, saying it would be redundant since it has “already studied the issue extensively,” according to the AP. But one Monsanto whistleblower has suggested that proteins produced by GE crops can have allergenic or toxic properties, public health concerns that are not being sufficiently evaluated.
Worse, Monsanto even attempted to prevent HII’s proxy representative from speaking on behalf of the resolution. Adam Eidinger, an activist who recently led the GMO Right2Know march from New York to Washington D.C., ended up being able to give a three minute testimony in support of the study on behalf of HII. He said 5.73 percent of the shareholders voted in favor of the proposal, which was more than expected.
If Monsanto was really serious about transparency, it wouldn’t be trying to shut any shareholder voices out. Instead, the company should encourage an honest assessment of its products that’s not kept behind closed doors.