EWG’s Cook Applauds Wash State AG’s Lawsuit Against Food Industry’s Secretive Spending On GMO Labeling Initiative

(202) 667-6982
For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oakland, Calif. – Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook today called on the Grocery Manufacturers Association to fully disclose which member companies contributed money to the secretive and potentially illegal contribution scheme under Washington State’s campaign finance laws. As of the last reporting cycle, big food, chemical companies and GMA have raised $17 million for the campaign against the I-522 ballot initiative to require labels on foods made with genetically engineered ingredients.

“We applaud this action by Attorney General Ferguson on behalf of the residents of Washington State and the more than 18,000 EWG supporters who live there,” said Cook.  “Allowing giant food companies, like Pepsi, Coca-Cola and General Mills, to secretly contribute millions of dollars by hiding behind the Grocery Manufacturers Association in a potentially illegal plot to undermine state law should not be allowed. Each and every citizen in Washington, regardless of where they come down on I-522, deserves to know whose bankrolling these campaigns. Period.”

“Those companies hiding behind GMA should immediately reveal themselves and how much they contributed, and then defend their position that the voters of Washington State shouldn’t have the right to know what’s in their food,” added Cook.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, in his lawsuit filed today in Thurston County Superior Court, alleges the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 300 food and beverage corporations, illegally gathered more than $7 million from its members and then hid the identities of those companies; a direction violation of Washington State’s Initiative 276 campaign transparency law passed in 1976.

Last week, EWG, along with As You Sow, the Green Century Equity Fund and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) filed shareholder resolutions asking the top corporate donors to the opposition of the California GMO labeling ballot initiative from last November to refrain from using corporate funds to influence political elections, including I-522 in Washington State.

Mr. Cook is an unpaid advisor to the Yes on 522 campaign.

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