1.Nun is public face of investor group
2.Report on Impacts of Genetically Modified Foods
As well as the first article below which has a significant focus on the Interfaith Center's campaign to get Kraft foods to drop genetically engineered ingredients, the second item is a very useful Interfaith Center statement of concerns about the impact of GMOs on humans or the environment, prepared for an Archer-Daniels-Midland shareholders' meeting.
EXCERPTS: In April, in between slick company PowerPoint presentations and minutely scripted presentations by top executives, [Sister Patricia Daly] delivered a five-minute speech at the company's annual meeting in New Jersey.
"There are no feed studies proving the safety" of bioengineered foodstuffs, said Daly, noting that regulation and liability could hurt the company's bottom line. "The reality is that Kraft Foods is not protected." (item 1)
1.Nun is public face of investor group
By Geoff Dougherty
Chicago Tribune, Aug 7 2005
'I don't use the God card. I'm not saying I'm speaking for Jesus here. But if people see the Dominicans and the Jesuits on a shareholder resolution, they're going to say, "These are people with some credibility."' - Sister Patricia Daly
CHICAGO - With her unassuming looks and cream-colored knit blazer, Sister Patricia Daly hardly seems the type to raise hell at a Fortune 500 company's annual meeting.
But dozens of times a year, she does just that. She leaves her home with a Palm Pilot and a copy of Institutional Investor magazine in her bag and arrives at meetings ready to press for social responsibility.
Daly is perhaps the most visible public face of an interconnected group of faith-based investor organizations that have become increasingly influential. Their power flows from investments of more than $100 billion, their willingness to file shareholder proposals year after year and the fact that few executives want their company to be seen fighting nuns.
"I don't use the God card," said Daly. "I'm not saying I'm speaking for Jesus here. But if people see the Dominicans and the Jesuits on a shareholder resolution, they're going to say, 'These are people with some credibility.'"
At Chicago-based Kraft Foods Inc., for example, company officials have met several times with Daly to discuss the company's use of genetically engineered ingredients.
"We've discovered we are not as far apart as we might have imagined," said Paul Carothers, a Kraft official who was at the meetings. "Our thinking has been informed by these discussions."
But Jack Welch, the former General Electric Co. chief who had a well-publicized disagreement with Daly at a company meeting some years ago, said the nun's shareholder proposals altered little at GE.
"They would vent their arguments, and we'd move on to next issue," he said.
Religious orders have a long history of social activism but became high-profile advocates in the business world during the battles over U.S. investment in apartheid-era South Africa.
Leon Sullivan, a black clergyman who sat on the General Motors board, was instrumental in urging U.S. companies in South Africa to enact anti-discrimination provisions, and religious shareholders quickly joined him.
Today, Daly's group is pushing dozens of resolutions, addressing matters such as governance issues at Merck & Co. and Alaskan oil drilling at Exxon Mobil Corp.
Daly's group and others like it have become increasingly sophisticated.
Where their proposals once offered ecological arguments against Alaskan drilling, for example, they now offer financial ones, and that usually ensures that they are voted on by shareholders.
"The faith-based people have gotten a lot more serious about making the economic case for their issues," said Beth Young, a senior research associate at The Corporate Library.
Young said Daly has been successful at times because companies want to avoid the embarrassing publicity that can come from having environmental or corporate governance problems laid bare in a proxy sent to each of its shareholders.
"I think the religious affiliation is enough to push some companies to do something they might not do if they were presented with the issue by another investor," Young said.
While Daly's order typically buys stocks recommended by investment advisers, the Dominicans own 100 Kraft shares for the sole purpose of submitting shareholder proposals.
In April, in between slick company PowerPoint presentations and minutely scripted presentations by top executives, Daly delivered a five-minute speech at the company's annual meeting in New Jersey.
"There are no feed studies proving the safety" of bioengineered foodstuffs, said Daly, noting that regulation and liability could hurt the company's bottom line. "The reality is that Kraft Foods is not protected."
After Daly was done, the assembled company officials had little to say about their stance on the issue, and the company secretary announced the results of the balloting on Daly's proposal.
"The shareholder proposal has been defeated, with more than 99 percent voting against," he said.
But behind the scenes, the situation was not nearly so black and white.
Daly and other religious activists had been meeting with Kraft officials for a year, engaging in a lively back-and-forth that both sides agree has been productive.
Daly knew her proposal had little chance of success.
"I came to make sure they would go on the record agreeing to work with us," she said. "That made it worth it for me."
At other companies, the dialogue is not so sweet.
Daly has been booed at some shareholder meetings and greeted by management-organized protesters at others.
At one defense contractor's meeting, a company executive greeted Daly's questions with little interest.
"He said: 'Sister, if you don't like it, sell your shares,'" Daly recalled.
At Exxon Mobil, executives responded to Daly's proposals on greenhouse gases by saying fossil fuels aren't part of the problem.
"Instead of putting more resources into finding the way out, they spend resources trying to discredit the science," Daly said. "They're pretty arrogant about it."
At GE, the group has fought a long-running battle over the PCB-contaminated Hudson River.
Daly has met often with company executives and officials at the federal Environmental Protection Agency and said shareholder resolutions have been effective in drawing attention to the issue.
This year's resolution would make any executive cringe.
Sent to every GE shareholder at company expense, the resolution noted that GE had dumped at least 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the river, that a state agency had described the company's actions as "corporate abuse" and that GE had racked up a $20 million debt to the federal government in connection with the environmental problems.
Daly said the Interfaith Center's activities have helped warn the public about the dangers of eating fish from the Hudson and encouraged the company to take responsibility for pollution.
Welch, the former GE chief, said he wonders whether Daly's proposals were designed to push for change at the company or simply to attract publicity.
"I don't know what their cause really is," said Welch. "Whether it's PCBs or notoriety or what."
Welch said publicity over Daly's advocacy did not change GE's approach to cleaning up the Hudson.
"They're just another advocacy group," Welch said. "I never saw them as a problem."
2.Report on Impacts of Genetically Modified Foods
2004 Archer-Daniels-Midland Company
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that our Board review the Company's policies for food products containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients and report (at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information) to shareholders within six months of the annual meeting on the results of the review, including
(i) the extent that the Company's food products are derived from or contain GE ingredients;
(ii) the environmental impacts of continued use of GE ingredients in food products sold or manufactured by the company;]
(iii) any contingency plan for sourcing non-GE food ingredients should circumstances so require;
(iv) any issues of competitive advantage and/or brand name loyalty from use or non-use of GE ingredients.
Concerns about the impact of genetically engineered food on humans or the environment include:
The National Academy of Sciences report Biological Confinement of Genetically Engineered Organisms (1/2004) states that "It is possible that some engineered genes that confer pest resistance or otherwise improve a crop plant might contribute to the evolution of increased weediness in wild relatives-especially if the genes escape to an organism that already is considered a weed." .... "Other concerns about transgenic organisms include their effects on nontarget populations-including humans-and the potential for transgenes to disperse and spread before becoming deregulated in particular regions or nations." (p. 2-3)
Gone to Seed, a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (3/2004) found that genetically engineered DNA is contaminating U.S. traditional seeds of corn, soybeans and canola and that if left unchecked could disrupt agricultural trade, unfairly burden the organic foods industry, and allow hazardous materials into the food supply.
FDA does not require safety testing of GE food products; the producers of GE-products merely have voluntary safety consultations. It is the developer's responsibility to assure that the food is safe.
Weed resistance to the herbicide used widely by farmers who plant genetically engineered herbicide resistant crops, is increasing. (Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences News 5/30/03).
The testing protocol recommended in 2002 by the Joint UN FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Allergenicity of Foods Derived from Biotechnology has not been used for assessing GE-crops on the U.S. market.
In December 2002, StarLink corn, not approved for human consumption, was detected in a U.S. corn shipment to Japan. StarLink first contaminated U.S. corn supplies in September 2000, triggering a recall of 300 products.
Indicators of market resistance to GE-foods:
A USDA survey of global attitudes toward GE-wheat indicated opposition or uncertainty. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service offices in 17 countries responded negatively, 32 responded with uncertainty, and only 4 responded positively. (Reuters, 03/15/04)
A Pew Global Attitudes survey (6/2003) indicates that Western Europeans and Japanese overwhelmingly oppose GE-foods for health and environmental reasons. In the United States 55% are opposed according to this survey.
Many of Europe's larger food retailers [J.Sainsbury (UK), Carrefour (France's largest retailer), Migros (Switzerland's largest food chain), Delhaize (Belgium), Marks and Spencer (UK), Superquinn (Ireland) and Effelunga (Italy)] have committed to removing GE ingredients from their proprietary products.
Lead: Srs. of St. Dominic of Caldwell, NJ, Sr. Patricia Daly; Maryknoll Sisters; Ursuline Sisters, Rhinebeck, NY