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Company: Whole Foods Market
Subject: Bisphenol-A in Packaging
Year: 2009
Sector: Food Retail/Processing
Lead Filer: Green Century Capital Management
Cofiler(s): As You Sow Foundation
Outcome: Withdrawn in response to corporate commitments

Whereas: Whole Foods Markets Inc. (WFMI) is a leader in marketing of wholesome foods and nutritional products. Whole Foods Quality Standards state that “We carry natural and organic products because we believe that food in its purest state — unadulterated by artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives — is the best tasting and most nutritious food available….”

Whole Foods has developed a valuable premium brand based on its faithful adherence to these standards. Whole Foods customers and shareholders expect the company to provide leadership in product purity and to ensure that the products it sells do not contain harmful synthetic chemicals.

Whole Foods decided in 2006 to remove all baby bottles containing Bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor used in large quantities in both polycarbonate products and can linings, from its stores and benefited from this business decision. However, WFMI continues to sell other polycarbonate containers with BPA as well as products in cans lined with material containing BPA.

A new study conducted on humans released by JAMA indicates that human exposure to BPA may correlate with increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. Previous studies done on animals link BPA to potential changes in brain structure, immune systems, male and female reproductive systems, and changes in breast tissue associated with increased rates of breast cancer.

According to US News & World Report, US-based Eden Organics has developed a can lining that does not contain BPA, and has been using it for several years.

Whole Foods has also expanded into Canada, where the government is taking steps to ban certain
products containing BPA.

Resolved: Shareholders request that by February 2010, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary
information, the Board publish a report evaluating the environmental and health impact of Company
policies and procedures on chemicals of concern including BPA.

Supporting Statement: According to a recent report, (http://www.iehn.org/publications.reports.bpa.php), increasing public awareness of the dangers of BPA is driving the market for safer alternatives in packaging while focusing attention on improved corporate transparency regarding chemicals of concern. Cutting edge innovative practices include inventorying chemicals in products using published lists and scientific research; establishing goals and milestones for action, even in the face of scientific uncertainty; providing inducements to suppliers to provide safer products; and publicly disclosing information to consumers and shareholders. We commend our company’s pioneering role in removing most polycarbonate containers with BPA from the company’s stores, but we believe a commitment to reporting on alternative can linings
and using said linings when feasible would benefit our company by building public trust, protecting brand reputation, and anticipating prospective regulation. We believe the report request by the resolution should include options for systematically identifying toxics in stocked products, encouraging suppliers to reduce or eliminate such chemicals and develop safer alternatives, especially in can linings, educating WFMI customers about toxics in products, and enhancing WFMI’s leadership reputation by routinely reporting on its progress to eliminate exposures to chemicals of concern.


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