Great-granddaughter of General Mills founder urges company to stop using GMOs

Great-granddaughter of General Mills founder urges company to stop using GMOs

Great-granddaughter of General Mills founder urges company to stop using GMOs

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This blog post has been adapted from a statement made by Harriett Crosby, Friends of the Earth board member and General Mills shareholder, at the company’s shareholder meeting on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.

Thank you, Ken. It’s so good to be here with you today.

My great grandfather, John Crosby the third, Honest John, cofounded General Mills with Cadwallader Washburn in 1877. It was then known as the Washburn Crosby Company. Honest John was one of the early pioneers who turned Minneapolis into the flour manufacturing center of the world in the 1880’s. He was a hard working, practical problem solver and he always wanted General Mills to be a good food company with an excellent reputation.

Betty Crocker, an icon of trustworthy and wholesome values, used the radio WCCO to teach housewives how to bake good bread with Gold Medal flour and yeast.

As a proud stockholder, I am concerned about our reputation as a company that uses genetically modified organisms. I think we can do better and improve our brand and the value of General Mills by eliminating GMOs from our products.

I am here to ask for your help in making General Mills a world leader producing the healthiest and most wholesome food in the world by phasing out genetically modified ingredients.

Most of the members of my Crosby family know about the dangers of genetically modified foods and try to avoid them.

Ninety-three percent of the American people would like to see GMO’s labeled, according to a recent New York Times poll. And the Hartman Group reports that 40 percent of the American people try to avoid buying GMOs.

Around the world, 64 countries either ban GMOs or require them to be labeled, including the European Union, China, Russia, India and Japan.

Countries of the European Union don’t allow any GMOs and all the products General Mills sells in Europe are GMO-free.

If we can profitably produce GMO-free foods there in Europe, why not here?

The issue here isn’t just if GMOs are perfectly safe or not.

Basically GMOs mean more pesticides in our foods.

Ninety percent of GMOs planted in the U.S. are designed to be herbicide tolerant—which means you can spray massive doses of herbicides, such as Round-Up, without killing the corn or soy. As a result, glyphosate, the central ingredient in Round-Up, is killing all the plant life except for the corn or soy and contaminating the soil, water and air of our farmlands. GMO’s increase the use of pesticides.

The extensive use of these pesticides has led to a growing epidemic of super-weeds that are resistant to Roundup. This in turn is leading to the use of even stronger, more toxic herbicides, like 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange, which was used as a defoliant during the Vietnam war.

Farmers spray more pesticides, prophylactically, everywhere, more often, to kill these super weeds, and then they get into our food and into our blood. Tests are showing glyphosate in human blood.

USDA has just approved a new genetically engineered seed that will tolerate 2,4-D, even as its own studies acknowledge that this will likely triple the use of this toxic chemical by 2020. As a result, this poisonous pesticide will inevitably wind up in our food and in our blood.
Is this the kind of healthy, wholesome, good food that we expect from General Mills?
GMOs are not good for people, animals or the environment. Who wants them anyway?

They are only good for big biotech companies like Monsanto that sell both the genetically engineered seeds and the pesticides they are designed to tolerate. The promises of biotechnology are yet unrealized, especially the erroneous claim that they require fewer pesticides. Just the opposite is true.

We are not just killing the weeds and the milkweeds that the Monarch butterflies need. We are also killing ourselves.

We are engaging in a chemical arms race with nature that we are bound to lose.

Wouldn’t you prefer to put your faith in nature rather than relying on biotechnology?

It’s great that General Mills replaced GMOs in the Original Cheerios, but the other 12 flavors of Cheerios, Wheaties and hundreds of other products still contain GMOs.

I believe that General Mills can become an even better, more profitable company by taking global leadership in producing healthy, wholesome, good food without GMOs.

General Mills has bright, innovative, forward thinking leadership, like Ken Powell here and his team, that can solve this challenge of phasing out the use of genetically engineered ingredients. They know how to produce GMO free foods in Europe and Asia, and they can do the same here.

We will capture new markets and stockholder value by providing quality control from the seed to the table.

We will make General Mills “The Good Food Company.”

We will make Honest John Crosby proud of us for doing the right thing by eliminating GMOs.

Our shareholder resolution asks the company to develop a plan for phasing out GMOs and bring it to the next annual shareholder meeting.

Vote yes to phase out GMO’s.

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