Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, a GMO Support Group, Broke Campaign Finance Laws in Fight Against Labeling
Take Action Now: Compel GMO Labeling: http://TinyURL.com/AllowGMOLabels
The enormous, and enormously powerful Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA), a staunchly pro-GMO group. broke multiple campaign finance laws in its fight against GMO labeling, according to a Washington court. This deals yet another setback to the forces of Big Biotech and Big Agribize following Tuesday’s defeat of the Senate version of the mis named Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (SAFE Act), which would have forbidden states from requiring the labeling of GMO foods.
In the wake of the defeat of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act on Tuesday, known as the DARK Act to opponents, or the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act, both pro- and anti-GMO labeling groups are taking stock of where they stand and what the future holds. But the Washington court’s ruling against the GMA, a group representing big food-producing conglomerates, is sure to send the pro-GMO crowd back to the drawing board and has anti GOM forces crowing.
The court has ruled that the GMA violated Washington state’s disclosure law when it served as a conduit for millions of dollars donated by its major corporate members that ended up financing the state campaign defeating a 2013 ballot initiative to label food containing GMOs.
The GMA, which also figured heavily in the more recent battle over the SAFE Act, could face up to a $33 million fine if a trial court decides that GMA staff members were aware they were breaking the law when they attempted to hide the identities of processed food companies opposed to the ballot initiative.
In a summary judgment released on Friday, the judge in the case found that the GMA failed to disclose the corporate donors in paperwork required by state law, with the intent of hiding the donors’ identities from public view and thus rendering their campaign finance filing requirements moot, to all appearances.
Internal GMA records revealed that the trade group set up what they called a strategic “defense of brands” account where they could pool anonymous donations from several major food companies. At the same time, they could “shield individual members” from public scrutiny, according to the documents obtained from the GMA. Staff also advised member companies on how to circumvent awkward questions from the media about the money and about their opposition to the labeling law.
All told, several major national companies gave some $14 million to the “defense of brand” account, from which the GMA funneled $11 million to the campaign opposing the GMO labeling initiative, but identified only itself as the donor in the required campaign filings, thus evading the spirit and the letter of the law.
Along with the GMA and its donors, opponents to the Washington state labeling law–including familiar names like Monsanto, DuPont, and Bayer CropScience–raised upward of $46 million, a state record for spending on a single ballot initiative.
And while the Washington ruling is another welcome development in the ongoing war against the array of forces that want to transform the way we feed ourselves while hiding that transformation from us, we should also take it as a cautionary tale: these corporations have deep pockets, and they will stop at nothing, legal or illegal, to control the world’s food supply not just for now but forever.
We may have won a huge battle, but the fight continues; and against companies like these, the fight will never be over.