Big Food Lobbying Group Spends Millions to Keep Consumers in the Dark

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For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Environmental Working Group (EWG) today called out the big food lobbying group, Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), for dropping an additional $5 million into a campaign to defeat a popular Washington state referendum initiative to label genetically engineered food.

Recent polling shows the measure is supported by the majority of people in the state, who want the same right that exists in more than 60 countries around the world.

“The GMA claims to be the voice for more than 300 food and beverage companies that depend on consumer trust and loyalty to stay in business,” said Ken Cook, EWG’s president. "Yet GMA is spending millions on behalf of those companies to deny consumers the right to know more information about the food they eat and feed to their families. Clearly some big food companies want to keep their customers in the dark about what’s in our food. Now they also want to hide millions in campaign contributions to defeat the GE labeling measure on the ballot in Washington state this November.”

GMA is under fire for allegedly “laundering” donations from big food companies that oppose Initiative 522 (I-522), which would require food with GE ingredients to be labeled. The non-profit group Moms for Labeling filed a lawsuit against the No on 522 campaign for its “statewide advertising campaign that illegally conceals the identity of the campaign’s donors.” The lawsuit charges that donations to the campaign are being “laundered through the Grocery Manufacturers Association.”

GMA, which represents right-to-know opponents including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, General Mills and Kraft, to name a few, is the largest contributor to the No on 522 campaign, having donated more than $7 million to defeat the labeling initiative.

“If the major companies that GMA represents claim they have nothing to hide in the food they sell, then why is GMA spending millions of dollars in this campaign?” asked Cook.

More than 100,000 signatures are on a petition that calls out 65 major companies, including GMA, Monsanto, Dupont and others for their opposition to GE labeling.

“Food companies that respect consumers right to be informed and choose will be much more successful in the end,” said Cook. “Customers can have long-term memories. For those who don’t, EWG will be there to help remind them which food companies believe the customer is always right, and which companies believe that they should decide what consumers have the right to know about their food.”

Paid for by the EWG Yes on I-522 Committee, 603 Stewart St. #819, Seattle, WA 98101.

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