GMO labeling: GMA to establish Washington State political committee in wake of lawsuit over ‘No to I-522’ campaign funding

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

GMA to register political ctte after lawsuit over I-522 GMO labeling

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UPDATED: The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) says it will file paperwork with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) establishing a political committee and will disclose the source of all of its contributions to the ‘NO’ campaign against GMO labeling initiative I-522.

It made the announcement after being slapped with a lawsuit​ from Washington State's Attorney General Bob Ferguson on October 16 in Thurston County Superior Court accusing it of violating state campaign disclosure laws by collecting contributions to the ‘No’ campaign without properly registering and reporting a political committee.

Ferguson also alleged that the GMA had failed to identify a treasurer for the committee, failed to identify a depository for funds collect by the committee, and concealed “the true source​” of the contributions, which topped $7.2m.

GMA is taking this action to allow the campaign to focus on the important issues

The GMA, said yesterday it was "surprised to learn that the Washington State authorities viewed the association’s actions as improper".

However, in a statement released today, it said:

“In the spirit of continuing cooperation and in an effort to provide Washington voters with full transparency about GMA’s funding for the ‘No on 522’ campaign, the association has voluntarily decided to establish a Washington State political committee and to file reports with the PDC disclosing the source of all funds used in connection with Washington State elections.

 “GMA is taking this action to allow the campaign to focus on the important issues related to the I-522 ballot proposal itself, and to put an end to unnecessary distraction and speculation about sources and amounts of funding.

“GMA has cooperated fully with the PDC and the Attorney General throughout their investigation, and will continue to engage state authorities in a constructive dialogue in the weeks and months ahead.”

The Environmental Working Group welcomed the news, adding: "We are pleased the residents in Washington State will now know which companies have been hiding behind the Grocery Manufacturers Association as they poured millions of dollars into the campaign trying to defeat the GE labeling measure on the ballot this November.

"No matter where you come down on labeling food with genetically engineered ingredients, every voter deserves the right to know who is bankrolling these anti-labeling campaigns."

OCA: This is a win for the grassroots and for consumers

Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association, added. “This is a win for the grassroots and for consumers... The GMA has damaged the NO on I-522 campaign’s credibility by breaking the law, and also has exposed the true intent of food manufacturers who are desperate to protect their profits by refusing to provide truth and transparency in food labeling.”

Click here to read arguments for and against GMO labeling initiative I-522 in the official voters’ guide in Washington State ahead of elections on November 5.

Click here to read the lawsuit.

Here's what the contributors to the 'NO' campaign paid:

  • Pinnacle Foods Group LLC $120,846
  • The J. M. Smucker Company $241,091 
  • Rich Products Corporation $24,049 
  • General Mills, Inc. $598,819 
  • PepsiCo, Inc. $1,620,899 
  • Bunge North America, Inc. $94,993 
  • Bumble Bee Foods, LLC $36,073 
  • Bush Brothers & Company A $16,233 
  • Moody Dunbar, Inc. $1,804 
  • Dean Foods Company $120,245 
  • Kellogg Company$ 221,852 
  • Nestlé USA, Inc. $1,052,743 
  • ConAgra Foods $285,281 
  • Bimbo Bakeries USA  $94,693 
  • Welch Foods, Inc. $28,859 
  • Knouse Foods Cooperative, Inc. $14,429 
  • Bruce Foods Corporation $3,006 
  • Abbott Nutrition $127,459 
  • Campbell Soup Company $265,140 
  • Del Monte Foods Company $86,576 
  • Sunny Delight Beverages Company$ 21,043 
  • Shearer's Foods, Inc. -$ 25,251 
  • Mondelez Global LLC $144,895 
  • Land O'Lakes, Inc. $99,803 
  • The Coca-Cola Company $1,047,332 
  • The Hillshire Brands Company $97,398 
  • The Hershey Company $248,305 
  • Hormel Foods Corporation $52,908 
  • Clement Pappas & Company, Inc. $21,043 
  • McCormick & Company, Inc. $102,208 
  • Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. $55,313 
  • FlowersFoods, Inc. $141,288 
  • Cargill, Inc. $98,601 
  • The Clorox Company $12,024 

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