Data from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission reveal that groups opposed to the labeling of genetically modified food products are outraising pro-consumer rights groups nearly four to one.
“Washington State is this fall’s ground zero in our battle for your right to know,” said George Kimbrell, Senior Attorney with Center for Food Safety, who also heads up CFS’s Pacific Northwest office.
I-522 is a ballot initiative co-authored by CFS legal staff that would require foods produced using genetic engineering (GE foods, or GMOs) to be labeled. A similar 2012 ballot initiative in California that CFS also helped to craft was defeated by a narrow three percent margin, but only after Big Food, anti-labeling corporations spent over $45 million dollars. Figures released from the Public Disclosure Commission reveal that the Washington State initiative is shaping up to be just as controversial and just as expensive. Anti-labeling corporations, especially Monsanto, DuPont and Dow, have already donated $11.1 million, compared to $3.4 million raised by consumers’ rights groups supporting the initiative.
“I-522 is simple: it gives consumers the right to know how their food is produced. It asks Washingtonians to vote for public rights or corporate profits. Agrichemical companies will spend almost anything to obscure that simple fact,” said Kimbrell.
According to public disclosure documents, Monsanto has donated $4.8 million and DuPont Pioneer has donated $3.4 million to the anti-labeling campaign. “It is telling that these companies are spending millions of dollars to keep Washingtonians in the dark. That’s because when consumers are given a choice, they overwhelmingly reject the chemical intensive, unsustainable agriculture that is involved in agricultural biotechnology,” said Kimbrell.
Washington’s 522 is part of a larger shift across the country, with over two dozen states introducing 2012-2013 legislation that would require genetically engineered food be labeled.
“Outdated and wrong-headed FDA policy does not allow consumers to make a choice. That’s why we are working state-by-state, just like organic food labeling started. By labeling food products produced through genetic engineering, we are giving consumers the opportunity to make a choice. That choice scares agrichemical companies that make billions selling genetically engineered seeds and related pesticides,” added Kimbrell.
About Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety is a national, non-profit, membership organization founded in 1997 to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. CFS maintains offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon. More information can be found at www.centerforfoodsafety.org.