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Washington Sues Grocery Manufacturers Association

Christine Eke3 years ago

Campaign finance laws in Washington State require lobbyists to disclose to the public their campaign donors. Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) represents some of the largest food and beverage companies in the world, and has been sued for failing to abide by this law.

GMA's Failure to Disclose

  • GMA has lobbied zealously against GMO food labeling in Washington and has been the largest donor to efforts against a ballot initiative to mandate GMO food labeling.
  • GMA had asked its members, and they complied, to pay assessments that would be used to oppose GMO food labeling.
  • GMA proceeded to fund such efforts without disclosing said contributors.
  • Reuters reports that the Washington Attorney General’s office has started a lawsuit against GMA for this violation.

GMO Labeling Initiative in Washington State

  • Ballot initiative 522 proposes a requirement that foods containing genetically engineered crops, seeds, or seed products be labeled as having such.
  • The efforts against GMO labeling has been dubbed “No to 522.”
  • Efforts for GMO labeling (effectively called “Yes on 522”) have been equally as zealous, but not as financially profitable as anti-GMO labeling ($5.5 million raised versus $17 million raised, respectively).
  • The initiative is set for a public vote on November 5, 2013.
Other States and Legislation on GMO Labeling
  • According to the Heartland Institiute, Connecticut was the first state to pass a GMO labeling law on June 3, 2013.
  • It has since then only been joined by one other state, Maine, on June 17, 2013.
  • The Vermont House of Representatives in Vermont has passed similar legislation, but it is yet to be voted on in the Senate.
  • Connecticut and Maine’s GMO labeling laws cannot truly become effective until at least four other states, particularly in the Northeast, enact similar legislation.
  • California voters rejected the labeling in November 2012.
  • Thus far, 26 states have introduced legislation in the 2013 session required GMO foods to be labeled.
  • New York passing such legislation would give GMO labeling a huge, and much needed, push in making the law actually work.
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