Abbott Laboratories: Request for Report on Long-term GMO Safety Testing

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  • Abbott Laboratories uses genetically modified (GMO) ingredients in some products in its nutritional lines, including in its Similac Soy Isomil Products intended for infants; 
  • Our competitor, Gerber Products, has stated that it will not allow genetically engineered (GE) corn or soybeans in their baby foods; 

  • In assessing value, investors are wise to scrutinize a firm's nascent liabilities, such as risks from activities potentially harmful to human health or the environment, that can impact long-term shareholder value; 

  • Sixty-four countries, including the entire European Union, Australia, China, Japan, India, and Russia require GMO labeling; 

  • Connecticut and Maine have passed labeling laws and other New England states are now considering similar laws in their legislatures. California and Washington State recently had GMO labeling ballot initiatives narrowly lose after industry spent over $70 million to defeat them. Approximately 20 other states are planning ballot initiatives; 

  • According to a January 2013 New York Times report, over 20 companies including Walmart, PepsiCo, and ConAgra have begun to lobby for federal GMO labeling laws rather than face the inevitable patchwork of state laws; 

  • According to a 2013 poll conducted by the New York Times, 93% of Americans think GMO-containing foods should be labeled; 

  • The peer reviewed study, “Long Term Toxicity of Roundup-Tolerant Genetically Modified Maize” (Food and Chemical Toxicology Sept. 2012) found that 70% of rats fed GMO NK603 corn over a two year period had significantly shorter lifespans than controls due to organ failure and increased tumor growth; 

  •  A September 2013 New York Times article, “A Disease Cuts Corn Yields”, describes a major GMO related blight reported to have destroyed nearly half of Iowa’s corn crops and is spreading. Supply chain disruption is one problem of a monocrop that threatens to impact shareholders and threatens national food security; 

Shareholders request that unless long-term safety testing demonstrates that genetically engineered crops, organisms or products thereof are not harmful to humans, animals and the environment, the company's board of directors adopt a policy to identify and label, where feasible, all food products manufactured or sold under the company's brand names or private labels that may contain genetically engineered ingredients and report to shareholders, at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, on such policy and its implementation by October 31, 2014. 

SUPPORTING STATEMENT: We believe that GMO technology involves significant social, economic, and environmental risks and that labeling of GMOs in the USA is inevitable. Our company should take a leadership position by clearly identifying products containing genetically engineered crops to give consumers the right to choose. Failure to do so could leave our company financially liable and at risk of damage to its brand and reputation, should detrimental effects to public health or the environment appear in the future.  

Resolution Details

Company: Abbott Laboratories

Year: 2014

Filing Date: 
March 2014

Initiative(s): GMOs and Pesticides

Status: 6.2%

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