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Published April 28, 2010, 01:17 PM

DuPont shareholders reject say on pay

WILMINGTON, Delaware — Support for a “say on pay” proposal at DuPont Co. appears to be fading, with shareholders again rejected a nonbinding vote during the chemical company’s annual meeting Wednesday.

By: Randall Chase, Associated Press

WILMINGTON, Delaware — Support for a “say on pay” proposal at DuPont Co. appears to be fading, with shareholders again rejected a nonbinding vote during the chemical company’s annual meeting Wednesday.

The proposal called on DuPont’s board to adopt a policy that would allow shareholders to vote on a resolution to ratify compensation for executives.

That measure, opposed by the company, received slightly less than 45 percent of the votes cast, with 55 percent of the ballots against it.

The vote last year was 53 percent against, and 46 percent in favor.

DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman said shareholders have a number of ways to communicate with the company and called the proposal unnecessary.

Shareholders also overwhelmingly rejected a stockholder proposal calling on DuPont to amend its human rights policy and allow subsistence farmers in developing countries to save and share seeds protected by DuPont patents.

Only 6 percent of the votes were cast in support of the measure.

“This particular issue is a very keen one for traditional farming communities around the world,” Sister Barbara Aires of the New Jersey-based Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth said in introducing the proposal.

Aires applauded DuPont for having a human rights policy, but said the company has not done enough.

Farmers have traditionally conserved seeds to ensure adequate plantings from year to year, but Aires said that the development of genetically modified seeds protected by patents has made such conservation illegal.

Aires said companies such as DuPont, Monsanto and Dow Chemical are moving too quickly to push genetically engineered seeds without considering the social and cultural impact.

Kullman said that DuPont has contributed to public seed banks and supports “the farmers’ rights to chose the best products for their use.”

And Kullman said widespread conservation and sharing of seeds could affect the company’s ability to invest money in research.

“We need to ask farmers not to replant and to protect that investment and its return,” Kullman said.

DuPont reported Tuesday that net income more than doubled in the first quarter, yet Kullman said she is still not satisfied with DuPont’s stock performance.

DuPont shares, which were trading in the $75 range in 1999, fell 19 cents to $39.21 in after-noon trading Wednesday.

“I’ve been patient for 12 years, and I haven’t seen a lot of results in respect to the share price,” one shareholder told Kullman.

Kullman said DuPont is a diverse company that needs to perform in numerous sectors, and that it has developed “greater clarity” in the mission for each of them.

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