Lobbyist Group Sued for Hiding Funders Against GMO-Labeling in Washington

money fraud

money fraudWashington Initiative 522 (I-522) was an initiative before Washington State lawmakers to label genetically engineered foods – a measure that would have marked an overwhelming victory in the pursuit of transparency and honesty in food manufacturing and production. Not surprisingly, food makers fought it tooth and nail. One group, the Grocer Manufacturer Association (GMA) has funneled millions into the fight, and was being sued for hiding the source of that money.

“Moms for Labeling” brought a lawsuit against the GMA alleging they are crossing the line, essentially laundering money by not disclosing who is contributing the $7 million they’ve given to the “No on 522” campaign.

As we recently reported, the GMA is an alliance of giant food corporations that pools their resources to fight measures like I-522 that might not be in there best interests. Members include such heavy-hitters as Coca-Cola, General Mills, and PepsiCo. Last year, these corporations donated directly to the campaign to stop GMO-labeling legislation in California. This year, however, they are hiding behind GMA.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

“Under Washington’s public disclosure law, any organization that “bundles” contributions must declare itself as a political action committee. Moms for Labeling is citing underground industry sources to support its claim that the Grocery Manufacturers Association is fronting for the companies that gave heavily in California last year.”

The lawsuit has been dismissed, but the fight is far from over. Moms for Labeling has submitted additional information in their fight to the state’s Attorney General. If the AG fails to file within 10 days, Moms for Labeling will try again. The dismissal wasn’t on the merits of the case, but on the timing, so the attorney leading the charge believes the 10-day window offered to the AG will provide plenty of time for them to be ready.

Read: 10 Companies Fighting GMO Labeling in Washington

The GMA, and its member companies, are fighting to keep what’s in our food a mystery. And the GMA doesn’t even want you to know who’s spending the money to fund the fight. But their board members include the heads of companies like Kellogg, PepsiCo, and Kraft Foods, to name a few.

As Simon reports,

“Each of these companies relies heavily upon on genetically-engineered ingredients to make its products, so it’s really no mystery what’s going on. During the California fight, food companies suffered significant backlash for opposing Prop 37. No wonder these corporations want to let GMA be the public face of their opposition this time around. But doing so just may be a violation of law. The question is: will they get away with it?”