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Grocery Manufactures Association Hiding Big Food Companies Donations Against GMO Labeling

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

Supporters of the I-522 campaign for GMO labeling took the anti-522 camp to Thurston County Superior Court today complaining that No on 522 was breaking Washington state public disclosure laws.

One of the No campaign's big donors is the Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association; the GMA has contributed $2.2 million, making them one of the No campaign's top five donors-along with Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer, and Dow. However, state election rules requires political committees to reveal their own donors so that voters can tell who's behind political contributions from generic-sounding groups, such as the GMA, that are helping fund initiatives.

The GMA is the lobbying group for the food industry, but that doesn't necessarily make them a "political committee." To be considered a political committee by the state, an organization has to specifically solicit money to influence an election or exist primarily to influence an election. But the GMA is already a membership group whose primary purpose isn't I-522.

However, in its complaint, the pro-522 activists contend, through whistleblower sources, that the GMA specifically appealed to members to contribute to the No campaign. The complaint states: "The Grocery Manufacturers Association has made a special appeal to its members in the form of a voluntary special assessment, to fund the No on 522 Campaign."

According to state rules, if that's true, that would make the GMA a political committee.

The pro-522 campaign wants the GMA to name names (or, I guess, properly label their donors), and they have reason to be suspicious that the GMA is shielding the actual donors: In a similar campaign last year in California for GMO labeling (I-37), 42 GMA members had individually kicked in $13 million at this point in the campaign (overall, the No side spent more than $40 million beating back a potentially landmark labeling effort). Curiously, in the latest precedent-setting battle, no GMA members appear to have contributed to stop labeling this year in Washington state.   


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