In Washington state battle, pro-GMO lobbyists forced to expose illegally hidden donors
- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
Following ongoing legal pressure from campaign groups and the Washington State Attorney General's office, pro-GMO trade group the Grocery Manufacturers Association released a listof high rolling donors to their campaign aimed at blocking GMO labeling in the state.
As was expected, major food corporations and GMO users such as PepsiCo, Nestle USA, The Coca-Cola Co. and General Mills, among many others, had secretly donated millions of dollars to the GMA campaign to stop Washington Initiative 522, which would require the labeling of all products containing GMOs if passed in November.
Additionally, as Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute stated, “Consumers might be surprised to find out that some of their favorite organic and natural brands, hiding behind their lobbyist, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, are contributing bushel baskets of cash towards thwarting their right to make informed choices in the supermarket.” That list includes brands such as Santa Cruz Organic, Green and Black's Organic, and Burt's Bees.
Campaign groups Moms for Labeling and Yes on 1-522 as well as Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson were engaged in legal battles with the GMA for soliciting money from its members specifically for the anti-GMO-labeling campaign while illegally concealing the identity of those donors from the public.
The state’s Attorney General’s Office and the Grocery Manufacturers Association both announced the deal to disclose the finances early Friday morning, one day after Ferguson filed suit. The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission released the list shortly after.
“The people of Washington demand transparency in elections,” Ferguson said in a news release. “I’m pleased the GMA board recognized their responsibility to disclose the names of companies who contributed to opposing Initiative 522, and the amount of their contributions.”
The GMA, the biggest processed food trade group in the U.S., set a record this year for the most money ever raised by a single group in Washington state to fight a public initiative—over $7 million so far. Over $17 million has been spent in the No on I-522 campaign in total, with most of that money coming from biotech companies.
The following is the list of the companies and their contributions in the GMA’s filing:
• PepsiCo: $1,620,899
• Nestle USA: $1,052,743
• The Coca-Cola Co.: $1,047,332
• General Mills: $598,819
• ConAgra Foods: $285,281
• Campbell Soup Co.: $265,140
• The Hershey Co.: $248,305
• The J.M. Smucker Co.: $241,091
• Kellogg Co.: $221,852
• Mondelez Global LLC: $144,895
• Flowers Foods: $141,288
• Abbott Nutrition: $127,459
• Pinnacle Foods Group LLC: $120,846
• Dean Foods Co.: $120,245
• McCormick & Co.: $102,208
• Land O’Lakes: $99,803
• Cargill: $98,601
• The Hillshire Brands Co.: $97,398
• Bunge North America: $94,993
• Bimbo Bakeries USA: $94,693
• Del Monte Foods Co.: $86,576
• Ocean Spray Cranberries: $55,313
• Hormel Foods Corp.: $52,908
• Bumble Bee Foods, LLC: $36,073
• Welch Foods: $28,859
• Shearer’s Foods: $25,251
• Rich Products Corp.: $24,049
• Clement Pappas & Co.: $21,043
• Sunny Delight Beverages Co.: $21,043
• Bush Brothers & Co.: $16,233
• Knouse Foods Cooperative: $14,429
• The Clorox Co.: $12,024
• Bruce Foods Corp.: $3,006
• Moody Dunbar: $1,804