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Abbott rejects shareholder call for GMO labeling on its products

By Stephen DANIELLS , 01-May-2014
Last updated on 01-May-2014 at 18:52 GMT2014-05-01T18:52:28Z

There was very little support among shareholders to support labeling of GMOs on Abbott products
There was very little support among shareholders to support labeling of GMOs on Abbott products

An Abbott Laboratories shareholder proposal to label genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in its Similac infant formula range received about 5% of the vote, and has been rejected by the company.

The resolution was filed by As You Sow, a non-profit organization that promotes corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy.

A resolution by the same organization last year called for the removal of GMOs from Abbott’s natural products. The proposal was rejected, having received about 3% of the votes cast .

This year’s resolution took a different approach and called on the company to identify and label all food products manufactured or sold under its brand names or private labels that may contain genetically engineered ingredients.

The proposal was supported by 5.25% of the votes, according to official documents from Abbott. 

“GMO labeling in the US has begun, and its continuation is inevitable,” said Austin Wilson, As You Sow’s Environmental Health Program Manager. “By labeling its products now, Abbott will demonstrate its leadership and commitment to transparency, and increase shareholder value. With more disclosure, consumers will be able to make more informed decisions that help protect their family’s health.”

Momentum?

Calls for labeling of GMOs in food have been getting louder across the US. Despite the failures of Californian’s GMO labeling initiative Prop 37 and Washington State’s I-522, Maine, Connecticut, Alaska, and most recently Vermont have voted in favor of labeling GMOs in food. There are significant similarities and differences between the initiatives between the states.

As You Sow claims that dialogue it prompted, and a highly focused grassroots social media campaign, led to General Mills removing GMOs from Original Cheerios. The food giant recently announced that this has not boosted sales , with others noting that the nutritional profile of the cereal  decreased with many vitamins removed from the formulation.

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