Seeds of Change - E-News Summer 2006
As You Sow Planting Seeds For Social Change
 

In this issue:
One of the [board] members said 'I love that organization', which is something I don't hear much at the meetings.

Nancy Rosa
Executive Director
Arntz Foundation




Proposition 65 and state rights under attack

As You Sow, one of the leading enforcers of California's Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, finds itself in the middle of a national battle over the federal government pre-empting state rights. Proposition 65 has been instrumental in reducing toxic chemicals and providing informative consumer warnings in a huge range of products and foods from nail polish to toxic air emissions as well as fish.

The food industry is now pushing the euphemistically named National Uniformity for Food Act (S.3128), which purports to bring uniformity between FDA regulations and state laws but is intentionally targeting Proposition 65. Not only would Proposition 65 be preempted but numerous important food-safety functions at local and state levels would eliminated.

This Act would undermine a huge range of efforts to eliminate carcinogens, such as As You Sow's work on heavy metals in herbal supplements, and reduce corporate accountability.
herbal supplements

The bill is opposed by many governors, state attorneys general, including California's Bill Lockyer, and state agricultural and food safety officials as well as many public health and environmental groups.

Contact your U.S. Senators now and ask them to strongly oppose S. 3128. Call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the offices of your Senators.


Big votes, company agreements highlight AYS shareholder efforts

As You Sow filed or co-filed 12 shareholder resolutions in 2006, 10 went to a vote and 2 were withdrawn for dialogues.

This year's proxy season resulted in commitments made to As You Sow by Apple Computer to launch its MacIntosh recycling program. Dell Computer then responded by improving its program with free recycling of all Dell computers with no purchase requirements. Coke and Pepsi commitment to work towards setting industry-wide beverage container recovery goals, and an agreement by Time Warner to develop a code of conduct for its consumer products supply chain following a strong 21% vote on our resolution.

We also posted high vote totals for proposals to disclose political contributions at Clear Channel Communications, Monsanto and Exxon Mobil. Our resolution at Clear Channel received 20.5%, one of the highest vote results of the year on our resolutions. This steps up pressure on Clear Channel to make public its political contributions, a significant point of concern since the last presidential election cycle. As You Sow secured greater transparency from Exxon Mobil following an 11% vote with the company publishing its contributions.

Our resolution at DuPont seeking a report on internal controls dealing with the adverse impacts of genetically engineered foods received 7.3%, enough to file the proposal again next year. The vote is an increase from last year's vote of 6.1%. A question from our colleagues at the meeting led the company to agree to meet to review the risk management process. Dialogue with Starbucks is showing continued progress on GMOs so no resolution was filed there.

At Wal-Mart we were disappointed to have our resolution on worker intimidation omitted by the SEC so shareholders were unable to voice their concerns through a vote. We intend to continue to press this issue which is of significant concern. We co-filed a proposal on sustainability reporting which received better than 10% keeping this concern before management.

We withdrew our resolution in exchange for agreement from Johnson & Johnson on meeting EU standards on toxic chemicals in cosmetics and have received assurances of the same from Avon.

For a full list of our resolutions and vote results click here.



Working Asset Customer? Vote As You Sow!

Attention Working Assets Members: Help fund As You Sow by voting for us on the 2006 Donations Ballot! Go to http://www.WorkingAssets.com/vote. The more votes you give us, the more money we get. It's that simple.

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Team Notes: Michael Passoff at EGA

As You Sow Associate Director Michael Passoff serves on this year's Environmental Grantmaker's Association (EGA) program committee and will facilitate a panel discussion on The 95% Solution - an overview of investment strategies that foundations can utilize to add value to their traditional grantmaking (see more below).
Michael Passoff


EGA program: "The 95% Solution"

EGA logo The Environmental Grantmaker's Association (EGA) retreat will be held this year on October 7-11, 2006 in Pacific Grove, California. The program will include a session titled "The 95% Solution" on aligning foundation endowments with their mission.

Foundations are required to pay out 5% of their assets annually to support their mission. But how many consider the potential embedded in the remaining 95% to promote this same mission? This session will provide an overview of investment strategies that foundations can utilize to add value to their traditional grantmaking. Examples will cover shareholder activism - proxy voting, filing resolutions and company dialogues; socially responsible investing and screening portfolios; and program related investment including community investing and micro lending.




Environmental Enforcement Grantmaking Update

As You Sow's Enforcement Program includes grant making to community groups out of the litigation generated funds secured through its toxics reduction program. This year As You Sow made grants to groups such as BayKeeper for San Francisco Bay and Delta toxics reduction work, Environmental Working Group for perchlorate testing and Earth Island Institute for its Brower Youth Awards. We have added new groups to our roster with Windows on our Waters (Education of youth-pollution & runoff), CalCOSH (Closing the Gap Project), and Amazon Watch (toxics campaigns against California based corporations).

As You Sow has granted out over $1.8 million since 1998 to over 80 different organizations! Learn more.