Monsanto is a major producer of agricultural products, including Roundup, and also markets a wide variety of genetically manipulated crops. Animal testing conducted by Monsanto may be expressly required by government regulations (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency testing requirements for pesticides), or it may be a voluntary activity on the company’s part to try to establish the safety of its products.
PETA’s “Give the Animals 5” Campaign calls on companies to abandon five crude and cruel animal tests, replacing them with state-of-the-art and scientifically valid non-animal methods that are already in use in other countries. With the help of PETA supporters who hold stock in Monsanto, a resolution was filed in the fall of 2004, calling on the company to do the following:
- Commit specifically to using only non-animal methods for assessing skin corrosion, skin irritation, skin absorption, phototoxicity, and pyrogenicity
- Confirm that it is in the company’s best interests to commit to replacing animal-based tests with non-animal methods
- Petition the relevant regulatory agencies requiring safety testing for the company’s products to accept as total replacements for animal-based methods those approved non-animal methods described above, along with any others currently used and accepted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and other developed countries
PETA’s resolution was brought to a vote at Monsanto’s annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, on January 20, 2005. Approximately 3.8 million shares (2.1 percent) were voted in favor of the resolution.
Although shareholder resolutions almost never win the required number of votes the first time that they are proposed, they do provide an opportunity to educate management, boards, and other shareholders about important issues, leading to change over the long term. In fact, discussions took place after the company’s annual meeting, which we hope will lead to ongoing constructive relations between PETA and Monsanto.