General Mills Works With Oakland Nonprofit to Protect Bees


Kristan Lawson

The Oakland-based nonprofit As You Sow, dedicated to promoting corporate social responsibility, has worked with General Mills to help that mega-company become the first major packaged-foods firm to improve policies aimed at protecting bees from the bad effects of pesticides.

Colony Collapse Disorder has wiped out nearly one-third of all US honeybee colonies since 2006. Studies suggest that neonicotinoid insecticides, aka "neonics," are the culprits causing much of this damage.

“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 bees and other insects that are affected by neonics, it’s earthworms and birds that eat insects. This is good news for the entire ecosystem," Crosby added, as revealed in a recent press release.

Having agreed to implement the new policies after working with As You Sow, Clean Yield, and Trillium Asset Management, General Mills 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.”

General Mills makes more than cereal. This huge company comprises many brands, including Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Cascadian Farm fruits, Annie's organic pizza and pasta, Bugles corn snacks, Progresso soups, Pillsbury refrigerated dough, Green Giant frozen vegetables, Betty Crocker dessert mixes and much more. 

General Mills has agreed to implement new policies regarding pesticide use among its suppliers -- and has issued a commitment to sustainably source 100 percent of its 10 priority agreements by 2020.

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