On November 5, residents of Washington state will vote on whether or not to require labels on foods containing genetically engineered organisms. If the bill passes, it will make Washington the third state to require GMO labeling.
The bill, Initiative 522 or I-522, has proven to be as controversial as a similar bill that was defeated in California last year. Opponents of the I-522 have raised over $17 million to fight the bill, according to Washington's Public Disclosure Commission. Brad Shannon at The Olympian reports:
"Opponents have raised $17.2 million and spent $13.5 million, giving them plenty more in the arsenal, according to the latest data on file with the state Public Disclosure Commission. Most of that cash comes from food makers and major agribusiness firms like Monsanto."
One major donor to the campaign against I-255 is the Grocers Manufacturers Association (GMA), contributing $7.2 million. Last Wednesday, Washington's Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the trade association to disclose its contributors. Kim O'Donnel, writing for Civil Eats, reports that they complied by Friday:
"By Friday, GMA had registered the Grocery Manufacturers Association Against I-522, a newly formed political committee, and disclosed both names of contributors and amounts, which are now publicly available. There are 34 GMA member companies on the list, covering the gamut of processed and packaged food brands, from Campbell Soup ($265,000) to Ocean Spray Cranberries ($55, 313), Bumble Bee Tuna ($36,000) to Del Monte canned goods ($86,576). Top contributors include PepsiCo, Inc. ($1.6 million); its soft drink rival The Coca-Cola Company ($1 million) and Nestle USA, Inc. ($1 million)."Supporters of the labeling initiative have raised about $7 million for their campaign. Organizations that have come out in support of the bill include the Organic Consumers Association and Consumers Union.
The Public Disclosure Commission features an interactive map showing how much money has been raised by county. This tool makes it clear that much of the funding for the campaign against the bill is coming from outside of the state, with just $9,563.70 coming from Washington donors at the time of publication.
UPDATE: By November 5, the total funds raised to lobby against I-522 came to $22 million. Read more here.