Big Food Brands Spend Millions to Avoid GMO Labels


You may have heard that, for some reason, food companies really don’t like the idea of having to let customers know if they use genetically modified organisms in their products.

It’s not like they’ve been talking to the public: a whopping 93% of us say food containing GMOs should be labeled as such. Yet Prop 37, which would have required GMO labeling on products sold in California, failed at the ballot box by a slim 2.8% margin. Why? Lobbying and spin.

Now the companies with the biggest horse in the race want to prevent a similar law from passing in Washington State. No on 522, a campaign “bankrolled by out-of-state biochemical corporations and food industry heavyweights”, just set a Washington State fundraising record, and a list of the companies involved reads like a who’s who of faceless corporate “bad guys”: Monsanto, DuPont, Dow and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a political action committee sponsored by Coca-Cola, Pepsi, General Mills, Nestle, etc.

The story earned a full write-up on PR Watch, which is worth mentioning for some key points:

  • GMO products have not been independently tested because the companies that create them won’t allow it
  • Opposition ads make unsubstantiated claims about price inflation, assuming that all supermarkets will go strictly organic if regulations pass
  • Lists of No on 522 “grassroots” supporters like farmers and doctors are misleading; only five “real world” individuals have contributed to the campaign so far
  • Washington State sued the GMA for refusing to reveal its backers, and the attorney general called it “the largest amount of money ever concealed in an election

In short, the major food brands desperately want to defeat this law—they just don’t want anyone to know that they’ve spent millions to do so. The only real arguments we’ve see against 522 from industry reps are that no one has proven that GMOs are bad and that the law would apply to supermarkets but not restaurants, which is totally unfair. We don’t even know how we feel about GMOs, but that’s some super weak spin.

Let’s hear from Dr. Bronner, the trained Harvard scientist/brilliant nutjob behind our favorite brand of soap. He donated $1.7M to the opposing “Yes on 522” campaign, and he says:

“We are in America. We have a right to know what we want to know about our food.”

Hard to disagree there.