Following engagement with As You Sow and other investors, General Mills has outlined strategies for reducing pesticide use in its agricultural supply chains. The company has explicitly stated its intention to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides on supplier farms.
The company also outlines specific ways it will measure progress in its pesticide reduction goals, particularly for farmers participating in its new regenerative agriculture initiative. This voluntary program helps farmers increase their profitability while improving soil health and biodiversity, in addition to reducing reliance on chemical inputs. In turn, these changes can help improve General Mills’ products and reputation for wholesome foods.
As You Sow has been working with General Mills on this issue for several years. In 2018, 31% of shareholders supported a proposal asking the company to demonstrate reductions in pesticide use, sending a strong signal to the company.
“The food industry has long avoided responsibility for the use of toxic pesticides in its supply chains. Most food manufacturers do not identify pesticide use as an important issue of concern, let alone outline ways to reduce use of pesticides. What General Mills is doing is a welcome step in paving the way to transparency, accountability, and long-term value for the company," said Christy Spees, environmental health program manager of As You Sow.
Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, adds that the food industry has become locked into a system of pesticide use that is increasingly inflexible and harmful. It inhibits biodiversity, leads to high rates of topsoil loss, harms the pollinators necessary to keep agriculture flourishing, and leaves farmers ill prepared for the impacts of climate change.
As a result of the company’s recent actions and commitment to continuing to pursue progress on reducing pesticides, As You Sow has withdrawn a shareholder resolution for the company’s upcoming annual meeting in September.
For more information on As You Sow’s work on antibiotics and factory farming, click here.