Shareholder Resolutions

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Company: Kellogg
Subject: Pesticides and Pollinators
Year: 2016
Sector: Food Retail/Processing
Lead Filer: Maryknoll Sisters
Cofiler(s): Missionary Oblates
Outcome: Withdrawn in response to corporate commitments

Policy on Pesticide Pollution to Curtail Pollinator Decline

Use of neonicotinoids (‘neonics'), a class of insecticide linked to dangerous declines in pollinators and other beneficial organisms, is growing rapidly.

More than 90 percent of corn and 30-40 percent of soybeans planted in the United States are pre-treated with neonics. Neonics account for roughly 25 percent of the global agrochemical market and are one of the most widely used insecticides. Their prevalence in agriculture, compounded by their ability to persist in soils and become mobile in waterways, further magnifies the risks. 

At the same time, managed honeybee colonies are decreasing. For the first time, summer losses exceeded winter losses last year. Annual losses were 42.1 percent for April 2014 through April 2015, up from 34.2 percent from 2013-2014.

Kellogg is a major purchaser of corn, wheat and soybeans -- crops routinely grown from seeds pre-treated with neonics.

Kellogg reports investing considerable resources into its supply chain to promote sustainable growing practices. The Company outlines responsible sourcing objectives in its 2020 Sustainability Commitment. Yet, noticeably absent from the objectives is any acknowledgement of pesticide use management generally, or the role neonics play in its supply chain, specifically.

Neonic use is a growing public concern. In December 2013, the European Union enacted a two-year ban on three neonics. In July 2014, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to restrict neonic use across the Wildlife Refuge System.  In May 2015, the White House released its Pollinator Health Strategy plan that includes the EPA's announcement to propose prohibition on foliar application of pesticides when contracted pollinator services are in use. 

Further, questions about neonic efficacy are increasing. In October 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that pre-treating soy seeds with neonics provided little or no benefit to production. 

In light of these conditions, companies are taking action:

  • Under Whole Foods' Responsibly Grown Rating System, its "best" rating can only be achieved by suppliers that prohibit the use of four neonics.
  • Home Depot is working with suppliers to phase out neonics on live goods.
  • Lowe's committed to phase out products that contain neonics within 48 months, as suitable alternatives become commercially available, and work with growers to eliminate the use of neonics.
  • General Mills is working with The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to minimize the impact of neonicotinoids to pollinators in its almond, tomato, corn and soy supply chains.
  • Conagra's Potato Sustainability Initiative includes criteria to protect bee habitat and reduce exposure to pesticides harmful to bees.

RESOLVE: Shareholders request that within six months of the 2016 annual meeting, the Board publish a report, at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information, on the Company's options to minimize impacts of neonics in its supply chain.

Supporting statement:  Proponents believe the report should include:

  • Practices and measures, including technical assistance and incentives, provided to growers to reduce the harms of neonics to pollinators; and
  • Quantitative metrics tracking key crops grown from seeds pre-treated with neonics.