Food and Chemical Companies Spent Big in 2014 to Defeat GMO Labeling

WASHINGTON – Food and biotechnology companies spent $63.6 million in 2014 alone to oppose mandatory labeling of genetically modified food ingredients, or GMOs, according to a new analysis by EWG.

According to the report, industry lobbying expenditures to defeat labeling – reported on federal disclosure forms that listed GMO labeling as well as related policy issues – nearly tripled compared to 2013 as the industry tried to rally congressional support for the so-called ”DARK Act“ filed by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan. The bill would block state labeling initiatives, limit the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to require mandatory labeling and write into law the existing – and failed – voluntary labeling system.

“We know labeling won’t increase food prices,” said Libby Foley, an EWG policy analyst who wrote the report. “We also know consumers are clamoring for more information about their food and a say about the agricultural practices that produce what they eat. So the question is why the food and biotech industry is so committed to keeping consumers in the dark that it’s spending millions of dollars to defeat customer-supported efforts to label GMO foods?” 

The EWG analysis includes interactive charts illustrating the huge increase in industry spending on lobbying. It also identifies the lobbying biggest spenders and the corporate political action committees that gave the most in campaign contributions in the 2014 election cycle to support elected officials who oppose labeling.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, for example, disclosed $5.8 million in lobbying expenditures around GMO labeling in 2014, “up sharply from $60,000 in 2013,” according to the analysis. PepsiCo nearly doubled the amount it spent, dedicating more than $4 million to the anti-labeling effort in 2014, up from 2.6 million in 2013. Other iconic companies that spent big in 2014 to deny consumers the right to know if their foods contain GMOs include Kellogg ($2.1 million), General Mills ($2.6 million) and Coca-Cola, which put up more than $9 million – the most of any food company, according to the report. 

“Companies that millions of Americans, including parents, have come to trust are spending millions to keep their customers in the dark about GMOs,” Foley added. 

Another stark finding shows the extent to which GMO labeling is a David and Goliath fight. “It comes down to this: Opponents of labeling have already outspent supporters by nearly 20-to-1” to lobby Congress, the analysis concludes, despite polls showing clearly that the American public wants GMO labeling.

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