Chemical giant E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (commonly referred to as DuPont) is a major life science company involved in the production of genetically engineered seeds and also owns Pioneer Hi-Bred, producer of GE Liberty Link corn.
In the wake of the defeat of Washington state's 2014 ballot measure to require GMO labeling, As You Sow filed resolutions asking the top corporate donors to the opposition of the California GMO labeling ballot initiative to refrain from using corporate funds to influence political elections. As we noted in our resolution brief, investors are aware that political spending to influence elections has significant risks and unclear benefits for shareholders. As You Sow filed resolutions at E.l DuPont de Nemours and Dow Chemical Company, who combined to spend over $11.2 million to defeat the California and Washington GMO labeling initiatives. The vote at DuPont received 3.5% of the vote, with over $1 billion in shares supporting the proposal.
In 2013, As You Sow co-filed a shareholder resolution asking the company to be more transparent with shareholders about its internal controls associated with genetically engineered organisms. Investors holding $1.7 billion of DuPont shares supported the resolution. Along with our co-filers, we will continue to engage with the company on its GMO policies and their impact on share value.
As You Sow began raising GMO-related concerns with DuPont in 2000, joined by members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and Christian Brothers Investment Services. This coalition filed resolutions in 2000, 2002, and 2005-10, asking the company "to adopt a policy of not marketing or distributing GE agricultural products unless long-term safety testing has shown that they are not harmful to humans, animals and the environment."
These resolutions were withdrawn in exchange for an ongoing dialogue with the company. This dialogue has covered a variety of topics such as developing a code of conduct, safety testing requirements, the Biodiversity Convention, intellectual property rights vs. protection of rights of the commons, obligation of transparency of information, just compensation and protection for local agriculture, and industry leadership.
The company responded to shareholder concerns by:
- Developing "Principles for Biotech"
- Complying with requests for increased transparency by publicly posting product safety reports on Herculex 1 corn
- Holding meetings with representatives of grassroots organizations and scientists critical of current practices regarding GE seed
Our 2011 resolution, requesting the company review internal controls related to potential adverse impacts associated with GE organisms, recieved 6% support from investors.
Read more about our engagements with DuPont below.
STATUS: Withdrawn; Company will address
BE IT RESOLVED: The shareowners of DuPont request the preparation of a report, updated annually, disclosing: 1. Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications; 2. Payments by DuPont used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications, in each case including the amount of the payment and the recipient; 3. DuPont’s membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation; 4. Description of the decision making process and oversight by management and the Board for making payments described in sections 2 and 3 above.
Related 2016 Engagements
BE IT RESOLVED: That the shareowners of DuPont request the Board authorize the preparation of a report, updated annually, disclosing: (1) Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications. (2) Payments by DuPont used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications, in each case including the amount of the payment and the recipient. (3) DuPont's membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation. Description of the decision making process and oversight by management and the Board for making payments described in sections 2 and 3 above.
Related 2015 Engagements
Political spending and corporate money in politics is a highly contentious issue, and may expose
companies to significant business risks. The risks to shareholder value are illustrated by the
public controversy surrounding the use of E.l. DuPont de Nemours and Company (DuPont)’s
corporate treasury funds to defeat Proposition 37, a controversial ballot initiative in California
that would have required companies to label products containing genetically modified
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
The shareholders request that the board of directors adopt a policy to refrain from using
corporate funds to influence any political election.
Related 2014 Engagements
Resolved that shareholders request the Board of Directors to review and report to shareholders by November 2013 on the company’s internal controls related to potential adverse impacts associated with genetically engineered organisms,including:
- Adequacy of current post‐marketing monitoring systems;
- Adequacy of plans for removing GE seed from the ecosystem should circumstances so require;
- Possible impact on all DuPont seed product integrity;
- Effectiveness of established risk management processes for different environments and agricultural systems.
Find more DuPont 2013 press coverage and press releases.
Related 2013 Engagements
Disclosure of material information is a fundamental principle of our capital markets. Investors, their confidence in corporate bookkeeping shaken, are starting to scrutinize other possible “off-balance sheet” liabilities, such as risks associated with activities harmful to human health and the environment, that can
impact long-term shareholder value.
BE IT RESOLVED: Shareholders request the Board to review and amend the DuPont Human Rights Policy, to include respect for and adherence to seed saving rights of traditional agricultural communities and we request the Board to prepare a report to shareholders, prepared at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information, on the above policy and its implementation within six months of the 2010 annual meeting.