Monsanto Company shareholders recently voted down a proposal that would have required the company to provide a report related to the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering. A final tally showed that only 4.16% of shareholder votes were in favor of the proposal.
The vote was taken during the company’s 14th annual meeting for shareholders at its corporate headquarters in St. Louis. A live audio feed of the meeting was provided to the public.
Harrington Investments Inc., based in Napa, Calif., proposed the resolution as part of activists’ efforts to force Monsanto to work toward mandatory labeling of foods with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The resolution marked the first time a shareholder had introduced a food-labeling resolution regarding food with GMOs. However, according to an article published earlier this week in the International Business Times, John Harrington, president of the firm, held only 30 shares of Monsanto stock as of last August.
In response to the proposed resolution, Hugh Grant, president and CEO of Monsanto, says the company strongly supports voluntary labeling of genetically engineered foods but is opposed to mandatory labeling as it could imply to consumers that a specific food item is inferior or unsafe.
Grant adds that he believes company personnel need to engage more with consumers, in addition to farmers and company investors, about their food concerns.
"We understand there’s increased interest in the food we eat ... that people have questions, and we need to answer them," Grant says. "We have an obligation to listen so stakeholders are informed. We know we need to work harder."