Why Monsanto and Big Foods Are Spending Millions to Defeat Washington's GMO Labeling Law

Search form

Why Monsanto and Big Foods Are Spending Millions to Defeat Washington's GMO Labeling Law

Why Monsanto and Big Foods Are Spending Millions to Defeat Washington's GMO Labeling Law
Thu, 10/31/2013 - by Mike Ludwig
This article originally appeared on Truthout

Coca-Cola, Nestle and Pepsi are among the more than 30 food manufacturing companies that have spent millions of dollars alongside biotech firms such as Monsanto to oppose the labeling of genetically engineered groceries in the state of Washington.

On October 18, 2013, the Grocery Manufacturers of America revealed that some of its most powerful members quietly funneled large donations through the trade group to oppose Initiative 522, a Washington ballot measure that would require groceries containing genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled as such.

The group voluntarily reported the names and contribution amounts of the donors it had kept secret to state election officials afterstate Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit earlier in the month.

Members of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, which was forced to create a political committee to comply with state law, have contributed more than $11 million to No on 522, the campaign opposed to the labeling initiative.

The corporations that funneled the most out-of-state funds through the trade group include Pepsico ($2.4 million), Coca-Cola ($1.5 million) and Nestle ($1.5 million), according to a Truthout review of state records. All three companies also made large contributions to defeat a similar labeling initiative last year in California, which lost popularity in the polls and ultimately failed after big processed food companies joined biotech firms in raising $46 million for the opposition.

Other large donors that funneled money through the Grocery Manufacturers of America to No on 522 include General Mills ($869,000) and Conagra ($828,249). Campbell's Soup Company, Kellogg Company, Land O'Lakes, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Cargill, Dean Foods and The Hershey Company are also on the list.

As it was in California, money appears to be making a big difference in the Washington GMO labeling campaign. In September, before both sides began spending on TV ads, GMO labeling supporters held a 45-point lead, according to an Elway Poll. Just weeks after ads began to roll out across the state, an October 21 poll showed that just 46 percent of voters supported the initiative and 42 percent were opposed.

The No on 522 campaign has raised $21.9 million and spent $13.5 million to defeat the GMO labeling initiative, according to state records. About half of the money came from the large processed food companies that were hiding behind the Grocery Manufacturers Association until the trade group came clean.

Biotech and agrichemical firms including Monsanto, Bayer CropScience and Dupont are largely responsible for the rest of the No on 522 war chest. Monsanto alone has donated $5.37 million.

The main committee campaigning for GMO labeling already has been outspent by the opposition, with $6.8 million raised and $5.4 million spent. The Yes on 522 campaign received large chunks of its funding from natural products companies, organics firms and alternative health companies.

The state attorney general's office said it would no longer seek an injunction to force the Grocery Manufacturers of America to reveal its donors because the trade group did so voluntarily. Ferguson's office, however, said it has no plans to call off its lawsuit against the trade group, which illegally funneled a record-setting $7.2 million to No on 522.

"We also continue to seek penalties, attorney’s fees, and other relief for violating the Washington state campaign disclosure laws," Ferguson said in a statement. "While the [Grocery Manufacturers of America] made the requested disclosures, there must be sanctions for violating the law and the case will move forward as filed."

The Grocery Manufacturers of America's most recent injection of $3.78 million from its political committee was reported last week, less than two weeks before Washington voters head to the polls. Monsanto also made a last-minute donation of $540,000.

Originally published by Truthout

Article Tabs

History shows that liberals need radicals.

American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, BP, climate change denial

Oil company BP said on Monday it has stopped supporting conservative political group ALEC, becoming the latest corporation to end its membership in a group critics say works to deny the existence of climate change.

water wars, California drought, water barons, Western Growers, California breadbasket, Primary Water Institute, underground water reserves, underground water regulations, primary water

It’s no longer just the farmers against the ranchers or the urbanites – it’s the people against the new “water barons” like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Monsanto and the Bush family, who are buying up global water at unprecedented pace.

Indigenous women make up 4.3% of Canada's female population – but represent almost half of the number of women murdered in the country.

Until the federal government gets serious about bailing out America’s students and instituting free, public higher education for all who apply, America’s student debtors should refuse to make any further payments.

Posted 3 days 4 hours ago

The hostility to socialist ideas is fading, as the majority of young Americans are experiencing the deep failures of capitalism.

Posted 6 days 23 hours ago

Students at LSE join a budding movement against the neoliberal university – and other universities across the U.K. and Europe – by occupying the administration’s meeting room.

Posted 6 days 23 hours ago
fracking studies, anti-fracking movement, fracking ban, Real Media, Debt Resistance UK, Anti-Daily Mail week, WailOnline, Blockupy, Occupy Rupert Murdoch

Imagine a world where the 1% doesn't have a monopoly over science and news – but where we can instead think for ourselves.

Posted 4 days 1 hour ago

A report that Rahm Emanuel’s administration invested money from the city teachers’ union in private equity funds run by some of the mayor’s biggest campaign donors is adding fuel to the charges that he neglects all but his wealthy backers.

Posted 3 days 4 hours ago
Ferguson protests, Michael Brown, Eric Holder, income inequality

The Justice Department report on Ferguson demonstrates how economic hardship and racial tension feed off each other.

money in politics, Citizens United, Edward Snowden, kleptocracy, surveillance programs, NSA, whistleblowers

Welcome to 1% Elections, the privatization of the State, a fourth branch of government, and the demobilization of "We the People."

Katharine Jefferts Schori, climate deniers, climate denial, Pope Francis, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, fossil fuel divestments divestment movement

Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the most powerful women in Christianity, says those who reject the underlying science of climate change are turning their backs on God’s gift of knowledge.

fracking studies, anti-fracking movement, fracking ban, Real Media, Debt Resistance UK, Anti-Daily Mail week, WailOnline, Blockupy, Occupy Rupert Murdoch

Imagine a world where the 1% doesn't have a monopoly over science and news – but where we can instead think for ourselves.

fracking, fracking rules, fracking moratorium, fracking ban, Sally Jewell, fracking regulations, American Petroleum Institute, oil and gas industry

The Obama administration on Friday made its most significant move yet toward regulating hydraulic fracturing, forcing companies to disclose which chemicals they're injecting into the ground and enabling government inspection of drill sites.

Sign Up