General Mills: Request for Report on GMOs

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  • General Mills uses genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in its products; 

  • A 2012 Washington State University study found that heavy reliance on genetically modified crops has contributed to a growing epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds and increased herbicide use; 

  • Most genetically modified crops are engineered for use with the herbicide glyphosate. In 2013, two Massachusetts Institute of Technology studies linked glyphosate residue on food to gluten intolerance and “a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson's, infertility and cancers.” 

  • Dow Chemical has announced new crops genetically engineered for use with 2,4-D, a toxic and highly volatile herbicide used in the defoliant Agent Orange. 2,4-D is prone to drift, and is already responsible for more episodes of crop injury than any other herbicide. 

  • The New York Times reported that the corn disease Goss’ Wilt is “a tidal wave washing across the Corn Belt” and plant pathologists suspect the biggest factor is genetically modified corn. 

  • Newsweek reported “one of industrial agriculture’s biggest GMO crops may have just backfired” because “corn-destroying rootworms have evolved to be resistant to the Bt corn engineered to kill them.” 

  • The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations concluded that genetically modified crops are unlikely to address poverty and food security. Food security exists when all people “have physical and economic access to safe and nutritious food that is sufficient to meet their dietary needs and food preferences… and is obtained in a socially acceptable and ecologically sustainable manner.” 

  • 93% of Americans want GMO labeling, according to a 2013 New York Times poll, and 64 countries have GMO labeling laws or bans, including the European Union, China, Japan, Russia, and India;  

  • Last year, 39% of American consumers avoided or reduced GMOs, up 254% since 2007, according to the Hartman Group; 

  • Although General Mills replaced genetically modified ingredients in Original Cheerios, the other 12 flavors of Cheerios, Wheaties, and hundreds of other products still contain them. 

RESOLVED: Shareholders request the Board of Directors adopt a policy of removing genetically engineered crops, organisms, or ingredients from products sold or manufactured by the company, whenever feasible, until and unless long-term studies show that the genetically engineered crops and associated farming practices are not harmful to the environment, food security, or human or animal health, and reporting to the shareholders, at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, on such policy and its implementation by October 2015.  

SUPPORTING STATEMENT: We believe that genetic engineering involves significant risks to the environment, food security, and public health. Our company should take a leadership position regarding sale of food made from genetically engineered crops. Failure to do so leaves our company at risk of damage to its brand and reputation.  

Resolution Details

Company: General Mills

Year: 2014

Filing Date: 
March 2014

Initiative(s): GMOs and Pesticides

Status: 2.2%

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