As many readers already know, Washington's I-522 is a citizen's initiative on the November 5 ballot that would mandate GMO labeling on food packages in the state. It came about as an effort to make the food industry more transparent and to ensure consumers' right to know what is in the products they buy and the foods they ingest. Of course, that is perceived as a huge threat to certain agricultural, chemical and food businesses, which have spent over $7.2 million on a campaign of disinformation. Many of those companies hid behind the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) to illegally launder money for their campaign against Washington citizens and to conceal their identities, fearing public backlash could hurt their sales. Washington's Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, filed a lawsuit demanding the GMA reveal the identities of the donors in compliance with state law.
With the identities of the GMA members revealed, The Cornucopia Institute has released an up-to-date infographic detailing the financial expenditures of both the supporters and opponents of I-522.
"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," says Mark Kastel, Cornucopia's Codirector.
After Prop 37, a similar GMO labeling measure, was defeated in California last year, the Cornucopia Institute exposed many prominent organic and "natural" brands that actually oppose GMO food labeling, including Kashi, Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen and Santa Cruz and Knudsen, owned by Kellogs, General Mills and Smucker's, respectively. Because of the negative publicity this brought, companies tried to hide behind the GMA to oppose the Washington initiative. Most of the campaign contributions against the initiative come from large, out-of-state businesses that fear losing profits, while donations in support of consumers' rights have mostly come from organic brands and concerned individuals, who have raised nearly $6.9 million.
"Consumers and food citizens are increasingly interested in 'voting with their forks,' and many want to support companies that share their values," observes Jason Cole, a researcher for Cornucopia who compiled the data for the infographic. "We think these conscious eaters will appreciate the infographic created by Cornucopia to help them make their purchasing decisions."