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Advocates Say 'No on I-522' Contributors Will See Backlash

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Washington News page.

Food companies that contribute to the "No on 522" campaign risk alienating both investors and customers, two investment advisers said in a news conference Oct. 9.

Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow, and Lucia von Reusner, shareholder advocate at Green Century Funds, predicted a backlash of resentment for corporations that have poured millions of dollars into defeating Washington Initiative 522. The ballot measure would require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.

Citing a recent New York Times poll in which 93 percent of respondents said they favor labeling, von Reusner said, "Using shareholder funds to publicly oppose transparency and the public's right to know threatens to erode consumer trust and exposes the company to significant risks as a result."

Companies that opposed California's Prop 37 last year saw significant consumer backlash on social media sites and were the subject of consumer boycotts, she said. Companies should "refrain entirely" from donating funds.

Behar said his group, a nonprofit that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, has filed resolutions at Monsanto, E.l. DuPont de Nemours and Dow Chemical, and it intends to file a shareholder resolution at General Mills and Abbott Laboratories, all of which combined to give more than $17 million to defeat the California labeling initiative.

The Green Century Equity Fund plans to file at Kraft Foods Group, which gave $2 million, and the Environmental Working Group plans to file at Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which combined donated $4.2 million.   
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