The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dave Murphy, Food Democracy Now!, 917-968-7369
Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association, 207-653-3090

Divest Monsanto Now! Campaign Calls on Investors to Sell Monsanto Stock to End Monsanto's War on Mandatory GMO Labeling in U.S.

Clear Lake, Iowa

Yesterday Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed the first no strings attached law requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (genetically modified organism or GMO) food in the nation. This morning, the biotech industry and giant food manufacturers have indicated that they will sue the state of Vermont to stop the bill from being implemented.

In response, today Food Democracy Now! is launching a National Day of Action with a broad coalition of organic farm and consumer groups to divest Monsanto's stock from investment portfolios in the largest institutional holder mutual funds, Fidelity, Vanguard and State Street and individual retirement funds in an effort to stop Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association efforts to kill mandatory GMO labeling in the U.S..

According to the Divest Monsanto Now! coalition, at a time when socially responsible investing is gaining in popularity, Monsanto (NYSE: MON) should be added to the list of unethical and socially irresponsible corporations shunned by mutual funds and other investments. Despite its negative reputation, Monsanto has been the darling of Wall Street, but today activists across the U.S. are hoping to change that.

"In the past 2 years alone Monsanto has contributed more than $13 million to kill GMO labeling in California and Washington State, yesterday Vermont showed what happens when elected officials stand up for the will of the people over corporate special interests," said Dave Murphy, Founder and Executive Director of Food Democracy Now!.

"News of Monsanto and giant food companies pending lawsuit is a sign of how out of touch corporations are with the America public. If you support GMO labeling, eat organic food or care about the future of our democracy, it's time to remove Monsanto from any investment portfolio you own. For decades Monsanto's executives lied about the harm of its toxic chemicals like Agent Orange and PCBs. Now Monsanto own patents on life and genetically engineered the food that we eat, but refuses to play by the rules of openness and transparency in the market place. We must use larger market forces to stop them." Murphy added.

As the largest biotech seed and chemical company in the world, during its 100-year history Monsanto has been responsible for producing the most toxic and environmentally destructive substances on the planet. As the manufacturer of Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs and dioxin, Monsanto's toxic legacy of harm to the environment and human health is appalling and inexcusable.

"For a long time companies like Monsanto have gotten a free pass when it comes to how they make profits at the expense of public health. Divest Monsanto Now! is targeting the movers and shakers on Wall Street to not just own stock, but also own their responsibility to public health affected by the companies they own," claimed Adam Eidinger, a Monsanto Shareholder who brought a GMO labeling resolution before shareholders in January of this year.

For decades Monsanto's executives lied about the harm of its toxic chemicals, intimidated scientists critical of their products to put profits over human health and public safety. Now is the time to broaden socially responsible investing to confront the significant harms caused by Monsanto.

"After 20 years of bullying consumers and small farmers, buying out politicians, scientists, and the mass media, Monsanto is being challenged by a global resistance movement determined to label and ban GMOs, to boycott Monsanto's seeds and herbicides, and now most recently to divest - to move their money out of any mutual fund or financial institution that holds stock in this reckless and criminal corporation", said Ronnie Cummins, Director of Organic Consumers Association and a leader in the national movement to label GMOs.

In barely a month after launching the Divest Monsanto Now! campaign, Food Democracy Now! has heard from thousands of members who have made the call to their financial advisors requesting that they move their investments to a fund that does not profit from Monsanto's toxic legacy.

Food Democracy Now! member Romola H. of East Long Island, New York, was shocked when she found Monsanto stock in her Fidelity Investment mutual funds, but even more surprised by Fidelity's response.

"They checked and found out I have some Monsanto stock and [Fidelity] told me they would have to change my whole portfolio", said Romola. "I said, 'well please do you know about Monsanto?' She said 'yes', but that she didn't think I could. She did see the information on what is happening with take the Monsanto stock plunge. So at least Fidelity knows about it. She then called back and said she spoke to her higher up and they would take their time and in one month get back to me to see about getting rid of Monsanto for me."

Even now, as activists across the country protest in front of Fidelity offices, more Fidelity mutual fund holders are making appointments to cash our of their Monsanto stock and into more socially responsible funds.

Currently, Monsanto is valued at $60 billion in the marketplace and with 525 million shares of Monsanto stock outstanding, the three largest mutual fund shareholders, Vanguard, Fidelity and State Street own nearly 16% of Monsanto stock collectively, make them the largest public owners of Monsanto stock. Already 64 other countries around the world already label genetically engineered foods, but for the past 22 years Monsanto has led the charge to keep Americans in the dark about the food they are eating and feeding their families.




The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots 501(c)3 nonprofit public interest organization, and the only organization in the U.S. focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million consumers of organically and socially responsibly produced food and other products. OCA educates and advocates on behalf of organic consumers, engages consumers in marketplace pressure campaigns, and works to advance sound food and farming policy through grassroots lobbying. We address crucial issues around food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability, including pesticide use, and other food- and agriculture-related topics.