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Organic Consumers Association

GMO Labeling Has Its Day in Court

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

We're now only DAYS away from the next big GMO-labeling vote in the United States; this time in Washington State, where citizens will cast their votes for the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," on November 5.

As in last year's California Proposition 37 GMO labeling campaign, the opposition from industry is fierce, with millions of dollars being poured into the anti-labeling campaign.

This year, they've really outdone themselves, being caught in a money laundering scheme designed to protect the identity of food companies contributing money to defeat Initiative 522. As reported by SeattlePi.com:

"The food industrial giants gave individually in California last year, contributing to a $46 million war chest that narrowly turned back the labeling measure.

In planning the anti-522 campaign, however, Grocery Manufacturers Association CEO Pamela Bailey recommended creation of a fund - which became the Defense of Brand Strategic Account - in part to 'better shield individual companies from attack.' Donations would be laundered through the account."


Most of the funding for the anti-labeling campaign in Washington State was donated by the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America (GMA). The big food and beverage companies that spent millions on last year's No on Prop 37 campaign, however, remained curiously absent from any list of donors throughout most of this year's No on Initiative 522's campaign.       

Attorney General Files Suit Against Grocery Manufacturers Association

On October 16, Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit against the GMA in Thurston County Superior Court on behalf of the State of Washington, alleging the association had violated the state's campaign disclosure laws. According to the press release:

"Ferguson alleges the GMA illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identity of its contributors. The funds were spent to express opposition to Initiative 522...

'When Washington state voters overwhelming approved Initiative 276 in 1972, they voiced their desire for transparency and openness in elections,' Ferguson said. 'Truly fair elections demand all sides follow the rules by disclosing who their donors are and how much they are spending to advocate their views.'

... The AGO [Attorney general's office] is preparing to seek a temporary restraining order asking the court to order the GMA to immediately comply with state disclosure laws. The AGO is also requesting civil penalties and costs of investigation and trial, including reasonable attorney's fees, injunctive relief and any other relief the court deems appropriate."


According to the filed complaint, the GMA began plotting and planning how to best defeat Initiative 522 back in December of 2012, placing particular emphasis on the establishment of a separate GMA fund to "combat current threats and better shield individual companies from attack."          


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