Berkeley / CA. (ays) Following engagement with As You Sow, The Kellogg Company announced this week a commitment to phase out the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest drying agent in its major wheat and oat supply chains by 2025.
Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in modern agriculture. The practice of applying glyphosate just before harvest (to dry out crops evenly and quickly) is increasingly common for grains, leading to a higher risk of glyphosate residues in foods. Kellogg’s commitment is a step to protect consumers from eating foods with this pesticide still present.
Over the past several years, glyphosate has become a poster child for the harms of toxic pesticides. Roundup, the glyphosate-based herbicide manufactured by Bayer (previously Monsanto), has been found responsible in multiple court cases for causing individuals’ cancers, leading to hundreds of millions of dollars of damages to the company and thousands of additional lawsuits.
Environmental and public health advocates have sounded alarms after repeatedly finding residues of glyphosate in common food products, especially those consumed by children. Scientists have connected glyphosate exposure to many public health and environmental harms, including cancer, kidney damage, endocrine disruption, and increased mortality of critical pollinators. Jurisdictions around the world are banning the pesticide, but use is still allowed on a national level in the U.S.
Investor pressure helped move Kellogg’s to make this important commitment. As You Sow first filed a shareholder resolution with the company on the subject of glyphosate in 2017. This led to ongoing dialogue between investors and the company during which investors asked the company to reduce the use of glyphosate by producer farms; in particular, investors asked the company to eliminate the practice of applying glyphosate just before harvesting grains. As You Sow filed another resolution for the 2020 shareholder meeting pushing the company to collect and report information on supply chain pesticide use; the proposal was withdrawn after the company demonstrated significant new commitments.
Christy Spees, As You Sow’s Environmental Health Program Manager, had this to say about the announcement: «We are happy to see Kellogg’s leading the industry with this substantial commitment to reduce the use of a toxic chemical that is often left behind on the food we eat. We are hopeful that its action will lead other food producers to do the same. At the same time, we are also keeping our eyes focused on the ultimate goal of reducing agricultural use of all toxic pesticides in food supply chains and getting farmers off the pesticide treadmill for good.»
As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building and innovative legal strategies. Click here to see As You Sow’s shareholder resolution tracker.