Kraft Heinz Company: Disclosure of Pesticide Use Reduction in Supply Chains

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WHEREAS:  Consumer preferences are shifting toward more sustainable food products, including products grown without pesticides. A Consumer Reports survey finds, “[E]ighty-nine percent of people think it is critical to protect the environment from chemicals and 86 percent think it is critical to reduce pesticide exposure . . . .” A report from the President’s Cancer Panel of the National Institutes of Health linked exposure to pesticides to brain/central nervous system, breast, colon, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, kidney, testicular, and stomach cancers, and Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and soft tissue sarcoma. The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned of myriad chronic health risks for children, including “neurodevelopmental or behavioral problems, birth defects, asthma, and cancer.” Recent legal decisions have held that the most pervasive and purportedly ‘safe’ pesticide, RoundUp, caused cancer in three separate cases, rocketing the subject of pesticide toxicity into the mainstream. 

Pesticides also harm the environment. Environmental consequences from pesticides include reductions in pollinator species critical to the production of food, pollution of drinking water sources, and destruction of neighboring farmland.

Reliance on chemical pesticides is unsustainable. Chemical pesticides are a short-term solution to pests, but with long-term consequences. Insects and weeds are quickly developing resistance to pesticides, rendering them ineffective, while toxic residues may remain in the environment for decades. 

As public awareness of pesticide harms grows, food manufacturers face increased risk. Environmental and public health organizations are increasingly calling out brands whose products contain pesticide residues. Legal risk is growing dramatically as the number of class action lawsuits regarding pesticide harms proliferate. Regulatory risk is also increasing as local jurisdictions across the country establish tighter restrictions on pesticide use.

Despite these growing risks, Kraft Heinz has not established mechanisms through which it tracks, reports, or reduces the use of synthetic pesticides. In its Materiality Assessment, Kraft Heinz marks sustainable agriculture high in importance to stakeholders and impact to the company, yet it’s reporting is notably silent on the subject of pesticide use.

In contrast, other major food companies are beginning to address pesticide use:

Nearly 100% of U.S. PepsiCo suppliers use the company’s Integrated Pest Management program, which states an aim to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides.

General Mills has committed to helping farmers convert 1 million acres of land to regenerative agriculture practices, which promote natural pest control methods.

Kellogg’s collects information from its suppliers regarding pesticide use in its annual Grower Survey.

BE IT RESOLVED:  Shareholders request that Kraft Heinz Company disclose its actions related to reducing synthetic pesticide use in the company’s agricultural supply chains including any metrics by which the company can demonstrate year-over-year-progress.

Resolution Details

Company: Kraft Heinz Company

Year: 2019

Filing Date: 
June 2019

Initiative(s): GMOs and Pesticides

Status: Pending

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