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Pro-GMO Food Trade Group Sued for Campaign 'Dirty Work'

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

In the latest development in the ongoing fight to label GMOs in the state of Washington, State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for illegally collecting millions of dollars in their campaign against GMO labeling.

The GMA, the biggest processed food trade group in the U.S., has already set a record for the most money ever raised in Washington state to fight a public initiative-over $7 million so far-all in an effort to defeat Initiative 522, set for the ballot in November.

And that money, Ferguson argues, has been funneled through the GMA illegally.

As the Seattle Times reports, the lawsuit alleges that the GMA "solicited big money from its members specifically for the anti-GMO-labeling campaign, yet illegally concealed the identity of those donors from the public by failing to register and file reports as a political committee."  

Seattle Times has more:

 Ferguson said unless the GMA immediately discloses its donors, his office will ask a judge for a temporary restraining order to force the grocery association to register as a political committee and reveal its donors so that voters will have the information as they cast their ballots for or against I-522. He added the state will seek civil penalties and attorney's fees from the group.

 The state's lawsuit cites internal GMA communications in which the group's leaders planned their big-money effort to fight GMO labeling measures while protecting its corporate members from criticism.

 In a Feb. 18 memo obtained by the Attorney General's office, Pamela Bailey, CEO of the grocery association, discussed creating a new GMA fund, subsequently called the Defense of Brand Strategic Account, "to combat current threats and better shield individual companies from attack that provide funding for specific efforts." That memo specifically mentioned the need "to fight Washington state's ballot measure."