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Investors Applaud General Mills’ Improved Policies to Protect Bees from Pesticides

JULY 8, 2015: Following engagement with investors and advocates, General Mills has become the first major packaged foods company to improve policies to protect bees and other pollinators from the impacts of pesticides. A shareholder resolution filed by investor advocacy non-profit As You Sow and Clean Yield Asset Management was withdrawn after the company agreed to update its Global Responsibility Report with a commitment to support the White House’s Pollinator Health Task Force strategy.

“Leadership in sustainability means tackling the tough issues,” said Harriett Crosby, General Mills stockholder and great-granddaughter of General Mills co-founder John Crosby. “General Mills did the right thing and Honest John would be proud. It’s not just about bees – earthworms, birds, and other beneficial organisms are in need of protection.

Since 2006, nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies in the US have vanished due to Colony Collapse Disorder. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which reviewed more than 800 peer-reviewed studies, neonicotinoid insecticides (“neonics”) are causing significant harm to bees and ecosystems. Over the past decade, neonics have become roughly 25% of the global agrochemical market.

“Many of the crops that General Mills buys are pollinated by bees and other insects,” said Austin Wilson, Environmental Health Program Manager at As You Sow. “By investing in supply-chain sustainability, General Mills is ensuring the future of its supply chain and its profitability.”

“Reversing the decline in pollinator populations requires attention to reducing the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, and supporting healthy soils and pollinator habitats,” said Shelley Alpern, Director of Social Research and Shareholder Advocacy at Clean Yield Asset Management. “Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Whole Foods recently made commitments to incentivize suppliers to cease using neonics. General Mills is the first major packaged food company to invest in an extended partnership to stem the excessive use of bee-harming pesticides.”

General Mills agreed to implement the new policies after working with As You Sow, Clean Yield, and Trillium Asset Management, with a follow-up meeting scheduled in six months. The company has committed to “protecting pollinators from exposure to pesticides” through an extended partnership with non-profit conservation group Xerces Society and key commodity crop suppliers “to consolidate and disseminate guidance to growers of key commodities such as corn and soy on how to protect and minimize the impact of neonicotinoids and other pesticides to pollinators.”

“We commend the company’s actions on this issue,” said Susan Baker, Vice President of Shareholder Advocacy at Trillium Asset Management. “These steps send an important market signal that working closely with suppliers to reduce pollinators’ exposure to bee-harming pesticides is essential to mitigating a serious systemic risk to our food system.”

General Mills’ other corporate responsibility initiatives include a commitment to “sustainably source 100% of [its] 10 priority ingredients by 2020,” as well as targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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CONTACT: Andrew Montes, (510) 735-8144, amontes@asyousow.org

As You Sow, founded in 1992, is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. For more information visit www.asyousow.org.

Trillium Asset Management, founded in 1982, is the oldest independent investment advisor focused exclusively on sustainable and responsible investing. Trillium manages more than $2.2 billion in assets for clients including high net worth individuals, foundations, endowments, religious institutions, and other non-profits. For more information visit www.trilliuminvest.com.

Clean Yield Asset Management, founded in 1984, is an investment advisory firm working exclusively with social investors. Since our founding in 1984, our goal has been to invest to promote a sustainable society while achieving competitive financial returns. For more information visit www.cleanyield.com

This press release was originally published by As You Sow which is solely responsible for its content.

Important Disclosure: The views expressed are those of the authors as of the date referenced and are subject to change at any time based on market or other conditions. These views are not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. These views may not be relied upon as investment advice. The information provided in this material should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned. It should not be assumed that investments in such securities have been or will be profitable. To the extent specific securities are mentioned, they have been selected by the authors on an objective basis to illustrate views expressed in the commentary and do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold or recommended for advisory clients. The information contained herein has been prepared from sources believed reliable but is not guaranteed by us as to its timeliness or accuracy, and is not a complete summary or statement of all available data. This piece is for informational purposes and should not be construed as a research report.

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