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Monsanto, DuPont & Pioneer against Washington GMO Labeling I-522The agricultural industry is investing millions of dollars to defeat a state ballot initiative that would require labels for genetically engineered foods. Dozens of agricultural groups contend ballot initiative 522 will require misleading labels, increase the costs of groceries and provides exemptions for hundreds of foods even if they are made with or contain genetically modified ingredients. A similar measure in California was defeated last year after opponents raised $41 million to lobby against Proposition 37.
In Washington, opponents of I-522 have outspent proponents by a factor of approximately three to one. Led by Monsanto Company ($4.59 million), DuPont Pioneer ($3.25 million) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association ($1.75 million), the No on 522 campaign has raised $11.1 million to defeat the November ballot initiative, according to records from Washington's Public Disclosure Commission. In contrast, the campaign in favor of the measure has only raised $3.6 million, with Escondido, Calif.-based Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps leading contributions (nearly $1 million), records show.
Groups opposed to the measure declare I-522 is anything but simple or logical. The No on 522 campaign points out many foods would be exempt from the labeling requirements, including alcohol, unpackaged food sold at a restaurant and food from animals that were not genetically engineered even if the animals were fed with food produced through genetic engineering.
Thousands of common grocery products would have to be relabeled unless they were remade with ingredients that are free of genetically engineered substances, the anti-labeling groups gripe. According to the No on 522 campaign, 70-80 percent of groceries today include genetically engineered ingredients that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) consider safe.
If I-522 is enacted, the requirements would take effect on July 1, 2015. Violations of I-522 would carry penalties of up to $1,000 per day, enforceable by the state Attorney General or citizens. But a court action could not be commenced unless a person had given at least 60 days notice of the alleged infraction to the alleged violator, Attorney General and Department of Health.
Of the $11.1 million raised in the campaign against I-522, only $1.66 million have been spent to date, according to public records. Of the $3.2 million raised by proponents of the measure, nearly $313,000 have been spent.
In a recent Elway poll, two of three voters said they would vote for I-522. But that could change. In the months leading up to the vote on Prop 37, Californians had widely favored the measure.
Publication date: 10/1/2013
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