The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has tried to undo the latest legally voted GMO labeling laws, but Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Schaller has ruled that the states’ case against the (GMA) will move forward, rejecting the GMA’s motion to dismiss the case completely based on constitutional grounds.
“Today’s ruling is an important step in our work to hold the Grocery Manufacturers Association accountable for the largest campaign finance concealment case in Washington history,” Ferguson said. “We intend to send a strong message to all: If you want to engage in political campaigns in Washington, you have to play by the rules.”
Ferguson was responsible for filing a lawsuit against the GMA last year. The state alleged that the GMA broke campaign finance laws when it collected approximately $10.6 million from its members and placed those funds in a ‘Defense of Brand’ account, and then used them to oppose Initiative 522, which would have forced mandatory GMO labeling. The account was funded without ever disclosing the true source of contributions made to it.
Following this suit filed by the state, the GMA attempted to cover its immoral (and illegal) tracks by filing a counter lawsuit, stating that the state had unconstitutionally enforced campaign finance laws. The GMA requested that the judge dismiss the case against them, trying to skirt campaign contribution laws and public transparency. The illegal contributions definitely helped to defeat the 522 Initiative.
Despite this attempt to continue control over the public food supply, the case will continue based on its inherent merits. Schaller ruled that the state’s campaign laws require the formation of a political committee, and disclosures were constitutionally applied. The judge did rule, however, that Washington’s laws, which required the GMA to secure $10 donations from 10 different registered voters as part of its political committee formation requirements, was unconstitutional.
The state will be reviewing the ruling to determine the next steps. Hopefully as the trial proceeds, the 300 food and beverage manufacturer’s who illegally contributed to the GMA’s slush fund will learn their lesson. These companies include Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Frito Lay, General Mills, and more.
Pamela Bailey, the president and CEO of the GMA, wants consumers to trust the biggest chemical sales companies in the world to ‘label GMOs at will, on their own terms’. I think the world knows better than to trust companies who illegally fund an anti-GMO labeling campaign when the measure comes up for a democratic vote.