Opponents of GMO labeling raise record $17 million

By John Ryan

Opponents of genetic labels on food just got a five million dollar boost. The donation from the Grocery Manufacturers Association sends the No on 522 campaign into the record books. More money is going against the genetic labeling initiative than against any other ballot measure in Washington history.

I-522 would require labels on foods that have genetically modified ingredients.

With new money coming in late last week, the "No on 522" campaign has now amassed a war chest of $17 million. The $5 million check rockets the grocery association past agribusiness giant Monsanto as the campaign’s biggest donor.

The Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association has given $7.25 million; St. Louis-based Monsanto has given nearly $5 million. The Grocery Manufacturers Association counts among its members some big companies you’d expect, like General Mills, Nestle, Hormel, Kellogg, PepsiCo. And some Washington state companies you might not expect, like Starbucks and Microsoft.

The association has not disclosed where it got the funds that it’s spending on the Washington state race. The latest big donation also continues the trend of most money on the state ballot measure coming from out of state.

On the yes side, the California-based maker of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps has been the biggest supporter. The California business has given $1.8 million.

Both sides report spending a small fraction of the money they’ve raked in. So expect a lot more TV ads and flyers in the weeks ahead. The “yes” side has sued, demanding to know where the grocery association got the money it has pumped into the race. The “no” side has countersued.

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