Others have asked, and I agree, if GMO’s are as benign as the industry claims they are, why not label foods and let the consumer decide? Instead “companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills and Kellogg’s have thrown down plenty of cash to defeat various initiatives across the country, and the story isn’t any different in Washington state, where a new push to label GMO foods has been gaining momentum.” Clare Leschin-Hoar exposes their tactics on the take part blog:
The major brands have been accused of hiding behind a trade association to lobby against the effort in an attempt to avoid customer backlash and a public relations nightmare. Washington state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit yesterday claiming the Grocery Manufacturers Association—which represents more than 300 household brands—has violated campaign disclosure laws. The group is accused of failing to form a political committee registered with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission after it solicited and collected nearly $13.5 million in contributions, spending $7.2 in efforts to a defeat ballot measure I-522, which would require genetically modified foods to be labeled. The state’s lawsuit also alleges the GMA purposely concealed the names of companies who contributed those funds to shield them from public backlash. Ferguson’s office says they are prepared to seek a temporary restraining order to force immediate compliance with state disclosure laws. The urgency is warranted. Washington is a mail-in vote only state. Ballots drop tomorrow and voters can send in their ballots until November 5. “It’s clear the GMA broke Washington-state campaign finance laws,” says Elizabeth Larter, “Yes on 522” spokesperson. “The attorney general has asked GMA to disclose donors right away. We’re asking that their ads come down until they disclose to Washingtonians who is funding the ‘No on 522’ Campaign.” The lawsuit reveals juicy details of the GMA strategy to defeat future GMO labeling efforts. It was mere weeks after the defeat of California’s Prop. 37 ballot measure requiring the labeling of food products that contained genetically modified ingredients that the trade group huddled to develop short- and long-term strategies for state labeling fights that lay ahead, according to the suit. The Center for Food Safety says GMO legislation is currently pending in 18 states. One of those strategies was to develop what GMA’s Chief Executive Officer Pamela G. Bailey called the “Defense of Brand Strategic Account.” According to a memo secured by Ferguson’s office, that separate GMA fund would “better shield individual companies from attack.” “The fund would allow GMA to be identified as the source of funding for efforts that included defeating Initiative 522,” says Ferguson. In effect, protecting the brand names (and the reputations) of the companies interested in keeping labels off their products.