Statement on Agenda Item #5: Proposal Regarding a Global Transparency Report
Transcript: Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity to introduce Item 5, on behalf of Harrington Investments, regarding the importance of PepsiCo’s global political transparency. I am Paula Johns, Co-founder and Director of ACT Health Promotion, a Brazilian coalition of over a thousand members, focused on reducing the deadly toll of non-communicable diseases.
I speak to you today from my home country of Brazil. Here, 50 thousand people die due to the consumption of ultra processed foods every year. And PepsiCo recognizes that “the food and beverage niche is a major influencer of the health of people around the globe…” This can’t be emphasized enough. The dire human toll in Brazil and globally is both avoidable and exacerbated by PepsiCo’s political interference.
Operating through trade groups like ABIA and ABIR, PepsiCo has effectively blocked or watered down a range of lifesaving nutrition and public health policies. Both groups lobby aggressively against policies to protect children from consuming products harmful to their health; such as the prohibition of soda sales in elementary schools. As the leader of an advocacy organization that monitors health promotion bills, in the last 15 years, I can say with confidence, that the concern for children’s health PepsiCo claims in its well written reports does not mirror the practices of their trade associations in the corridors of the Brazilian Congress.
Although it claims to be committed to transparency, a new report finds PepsiCo sources from a production chain involved in deforestation and human rights violations. In Brazil, PepsiCo snacks are produced with corn planted illegally on indigenous land. The corporation’s suppliers subject indigenous people to toxic pesticide exposures. And the lack of official action to stop these abuses may well stem from political pressures by the corporation and its suppliers. But we wouldn’t know given the corporation’s lack of disclosure.
I offer these examples as one illustration, in only one important country, of the some 200 countries and territories PepsiCo does business in. You as investors as well as those directly affected by PepsiCo’s political activities globally deserve and indeed need total transparency. Why should we in Brazil, for instance, have any less visibility than those in the U.S.? Why would investors not have a view of political spending and activities in the Global South as they do in the U.S.? After all, nearly half of PepsiCo’s business is international. PepsiCo’s opposition on the grounds that it discloses some but not all of its political spending globally, is the perfect argument for a “yes” vote on item 5. Let us fill in the significant gaps in disclosure that remain and live up to our first stated value of advancing “overall welfare of the societies across the globe.”