Faith-Based Proxy Resolutions and GMOs
Religion & Liberty Online

Faith-Based Proxy Resolutions and GMOs

The Dow Chemical Co., along with E.I. Du Pont de Nemours, has come under fire from the Adrian Dominicans and the Sisters of Charity due to the companies’ production of genetically modified organisms.

No, the sisters aren’t mounting the barricades outside the two corporations to protest what they might term “Frankenfoods,” but they have submitted proxy shareholder resolutions to demand, among other things, the companies review and report by November 2013 on:

  1. Adequacy of plans for removing GE [genetically engineered] seed from the ecosystem should circumstances require;
  2. Possible impact on all Dow seed product integrity;
  3. Effectiveness of established risk management processes for different environments and agricultural systems.

According to the As You Sow 2013 Proxy Preview, Harrington Investments – described in the preview as “religious investors” – are pressing Monsanto to provide even more detailed reports by July 2013.

AYS, for its part, is taking on Abbott Laboratories with a resolution seeking the company remove all GMOs from the company’s Similac Isomil infant formula “with an interim step of [requiring] labeling” that Isomil includes GMOs. The resolution reads, in part, that Abbott:

Adopt a policy of removing genetically engineered crops, organisms, or products thereof from all nutritional products sold or manufactured by the company, whenever feasible, until long-term safety testing has shown that they are not harmful to humans, animals, and the environment….

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be mentioned from the get-go that your writer resides in Midland, Michigan, right in the backyard of Dow Chemical headquarters, and his father was a union-shop steward and pipefitter there for decades. Dad also ran a small 80-acre farm with livestock, cash crops, a vegetable garden and fruit orchard when he wasn’t juggling home life alongside a grueling swing-shift schedule.

Having dispensed with the above disclosure, one wonders if AYS, Harrington, the Adrian Dominicans and the Sisters of Charity would do the same and divulge the real rationalization behind their proxy resolutions. More than likely, these resolutions reflect little of the doctrines of their respective faith and more to do with leftist ideology.

It should go without saying that feeding the world’s hungry is among the highest orders of human endeavor, closely followed by environmental stewardship. As noted by Acton’s Jordan Ballor: “Increasing crop yields through technological advances like genetic modification appear to be will within the boundaries of God’s ordained freedom for human stewardship.

“A chastened view of stewardship recognizes that we are only caretakers, called to an important task, but nevertheless dependent on the power of God to make the new heavens and the new earth. While growing more food for the earth’s inhabitants will not eradicate hunger this side of Christ’s return, we can understand our own efforts here as reflections, however blurry and indistinct, of the new creation.”

Bruce Edward Walker

has more than 30 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." He has also authored more than 100 critical biographies of authors and musicians for Gale Research's Contemporary Literary Criticism and Contemporary Musicians reference-book series. He was managing editor of The Heartland Institute's InfoTech & Telecom News from 2010-2012. Prior to that, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. He also served from 2006-2011 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. For the past five years, he has authored a weekly column for the mid-Michigan Morning Sun newspaper. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Flint, Mich., with his wife Katherine.