General Mills commits to reduce pesticide use in supply chain

Consumer concerns over pesticide exposure unfounded, report says
Credit: Fotokostic

General Mills has outlined strategies for reducing pesticide use in its agricultural supply chains after working with non-profit As You Sow and other investors.

The food giant has now explicitly stated its intention to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides on supplier farms.

It has also outlined specific ways it will measure progress in its pesticide reduction goals, particularly for farmers participating in its new regenerative agriculture initiative.

According to As You Sow, this voluntary program helps farmers increase their profitability while improving soil health and biodiversity, in addition to reducing reliance on chemical inputs.

As You Sow has been working with General Mills on this issue for several years. In 2018, 31% of shareholders supported a proposal asking the company to demonstrate reductions in pesticide use, sending a strong signal to the company.

“The food industry has long avoided responsibility for the use of toxic pesticides in its supply chains,” said Christy Spees, Environmental Health Program Manager of As You Sow.

“Most food manufacturers do not identify pesticide use as an important issue of concern, let alone outline ways to reduce use of pesticides.

“What General Mills is doing is a welcome step in paving the way to transparency, accountability, and long-term value for the company.”

Danielle Fugere, President of As You Sow, added: “The food industry has become locked into a system of pesticide use that is increasingly inflexible and harmful.

“It inhibits biodiversity, leads to high rates of topsoil loss, harms the pollinators necessary to keep agriculture flourishing, and leaves farmers ill prepared for the impacts of climate change.

“We are pleased to see General Mills stepping up as a leader in moving toward clean food innovation.”

As You Sow added that because of General Mill’s recent commitments, it has withdrawn a shareholder resolution for its annual meeting next month.