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Organic Consumers Association

Top Shareholders in Whole Foods and Monsanto: Identical

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA's Genetic Engineering Page and our Millions Against Monsanto Page.

Is there a Whole Foods-Monsanto connection?

The answer is yes.

But the important question is: what does this connection mean?

What does it imply?

Is it significant?

If you consult open listings (for example, investors.morningstar.com), you can look at the major shareholders of these two publicly traded companies, Monsanto and Whole Foods.

If you read the top 10 shareholders for each company-the holders of the most stock-you'll see that five out of those ten are the same.

Who are those five?

Don't prepare to see the names of individuals.

The five are funds. Investment funds.

They are, at the moment: Vanguard Total Stock Mkt. Index; SPDR S&P 500; Vanguard Institutional Index I; Vanguard 500 Index Inv; Harbor Capital Appreciation Instl.

These funds buy stocks in many, many companies.

These funds don't say, "Well, we'll buy Monsanto and Whole Foods stock and then exert massive direct control over Whole Foods and make it bow to Monsanto's agenda." No. That's not how it works.

These funds make automatic purchases of stocks, based on computer calculations and based on the S&P rankings of companies.

These investment funds could be sitting on Mars, and their computers would be running numbers and buying and selling stock in Earth companies with no input from the outside.

Unless something came up. Unless something big came up. Unless a private and elite word went out that Whole Foods was becoming a threat to some entrenched interest, some vital agenda. For example, some Monsanto agenda.

In that case, one of these big shareholders could cast a proxy vote that would go against the aims or plans of Whole Foods.

One of Vanguard's investment funds is THE top shareholder of Monsanto, and the fourth largest shareholder of Whole Foods. Here, from Vanguard's website, is a quote from "Vanguard's proxy voting guidelines." Read carefully:

"In evaluating proxy proposals, we consider information from many sources, including but not limited to, the investment advisor for the fund, the management or shareholders of a company presenting a proposal, and independent proxy research services. We will give substantial weight to the recommendations of the company's board, absent guidelines or other specific facts that would support a vote against management. In all cases, however, the ultimate decision [on how to vote] rests with the members of the [Vanguard] Committee, who are accountable to the [Vanguard] fund's Board."

The key excerpt from this paragraph is: "We will give substantial weight to the recommendation of the company's board, absent guidelines or other specific facts that would support a vote AGAINST MANAGEMENT."

Bottom line, in plain English, it goes this way: "We, as an investment fund, hold a huge number of shares of a company (like Whole Foods). If the company is holding a vote on its future plans and policies, we can, if we decide to, weigh in with our huge voting block and go against the wishes of that company. And win."  


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