Industry shelled out $63M to fight GMO labeling rules

Industry shelled out $63M to fight GMO labeling rules
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Food and biotechnology companies spent $63.6 million last year to lobby against mandatory labeling laws for genetically modified foods, according to a new study from the Environmental Working Group.

Lawmakers are pushing for a federal law that would require manufacturers to label all genetically engineered foods and any food products that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, which Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced in the House and Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTime is now to address infrastructure needs Tom Steyer testing waters for Calif. gubernatorial bid Another day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs MORE (D-Calif.) introduced in the Senate, would direct the Food and Drug Administration to enforce the new rule.

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According to EWG’s report, however, the amount of money industry spent to defeat these proposed labeling laws nearly tripled compared to 2013.

Groups like Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), EWG said, spent $5.8 million in lobbying expenditures around GMO labeling in 2014, up from $60,000 in 2013. PepsiCo nearly doubled its amount, dedicating more than $4 million to the anti-labeling effort in 2014, up from 2.6 million in 2013. 

“We know labeling won’t increase food prices,” the report’s author, Libby Foley, said in a news release. “We also know consumers are clamoring for more information about their food and a say about the agricultural practices that produce what they eat. So the question is why the food and biotech industry is so committed to keeping consumers in the dark that it’s spending millions of dollars to defeat customer-supported efforts to label GMO foods?” 

A political opinion survey on GMO food labeling conducted by The Mellman Group on behalf of Just Label It found that 93 percent of Democrats, 90 percent of independents and 89 percent of Republicans are in favor of labeling. 

GMA, however, is calling EWG’s report misleading.

"For the Environmental Working Group to suggest that all of GMA’s lobbying expenditures and those of some member companies for 2013 and 2014 analyzed for this report went to advocacy on GMO labeling issues is misleading and blatantly at odds with the publicly filed reports that list those issues,” the organization said.

“GMA and its member companies routinely engage with policy makers on a wide range of issues and for this report to suggest as it does that these advocacy efforts focused exclusively on one issue is totally misleading.”

GMA went on to say that EWG was more interested in marketing a report that supports its own political agenda than reporing the facts.