Santa Barbara — Harrington Investments, Inc. (HII) has announced the introduction of a shareholder resolution requesting that Monsanto Corporation publish a study on “material financial risks or operational impacts” associated with its products, especially genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The announcement underscores concerns about risks posed by GMO contamination of their crops.
“Just because the United States Department of Agriculture permits a product to be sold, does not mean that it is safe, and as costs of justifying and defending these products mount, investors need adequate information to assess associated financial risks themselves,” said John Harrington, President and CEO of Harrington Investments.
The resolution is timely given that Monsanto was sued in federal court earlier this year by eighty-three family farmers, small and family owned seed businesses, and agricultural organizations defending their right to seek legal protection from the threat of being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement, should their crops or property become contaminated by Monsanto’s products, i.e. genetically modified organisms.
Considering previous multi-hundred million dollar settlements relating to GMOs, shareholders have reason to be concerned about the prospects of additional large lawsuits that may have an adverse impact on Monsanto shareholder value.
Paul Towers, Organizing & Media Director for Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), framed the issue as nothing more than investors asking Monsanto executives to abide by their own “Monsanto Pledge” which highlights corporate principles such as: Integrity, Dialogue, Transparency, Sharing, Benefits, Respect, and Acting as Owners to Achieve Results.
“If Monsanto wants to be taken seriously as a responsible corporate actor, the first step would be to take its own commitments seriously,” stated Mr. Towers. “Monsanto has a responsibility to protect farmers and shareholders from the threats of GMO contamination, and prepare for greater liabilities until the company changes its business direction.”
Pesticide Action Network North America works to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. As one of five PAN Regional Centers worldwide, PAN North America links local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens’ action network.
Harrington Investments, Inc. is a 29 year-old socially responsible investment advisory firm that manages assets of individual and institutional investors requiring social and environmental as well as financial portfolio performance. From its Napa and Santa Barbara, CA offices, HII utilizes comprehensive social and environmental screens, commits clients’ assets to community investing and engages in shareholder advocacy.