GMA represents more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies. It is the biggest donor to the No on I-522 campaign.
“Truly fair elections demand all sides follow the rules by disclosing who their donors are and how much they are spending to advocate their views,” said Mr. Ferguson.
The Attorney General’s Office alleges the GMA established the “Defense of Brands Strategic Account” within its organization and asked members to pay assessments that would be used to oppose I-522. GMA then funded opposition efforts while shielding contributors’ names from public disclosure.
Mr. Ferguson alleged the GMA should have formed a separate political committee, registered with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), and filed reports indicating who contributed, how much they contributed and how the money was spent to oppose I-522.
GMA to Disclose Funding Sources
In a statement issued Oct. 17, the GMA said it has agreed to file paperwork with the Washington State PDC establishing a political committee.
“In the spirit of continuing cooperation and in an effort to provide Washington voters with full transparency about GMA’s funding for the ‘No on 522’ campaign, the association has voluntarily decided to establish a Washington State political committee and to file reports with the PDC disclosing the source of all funds used in connection with Washington State elections.
“GMA is taking this action to allow the campaign to focus on the important issues related to the I-522 ballot proposal itself, and to put an end to unnecessary distraction and speculation about sources and amounts of funding.
“GMA has cooperated fully with the Public Disclosure Commission and the Attorney General throughout their investigation, and will continue to engage state authorities in a constructive dialogue in the weeks and months ahead.”
‘Just Label It’
Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It, a national coalition of 650 organizations dedicated to the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, commented, "It's time these companies listen to consumers, and support full transparency when it comes to genetically engineered ingredients. Consumers deserve the right to know what they're eating and feeding their families."
Just Label It launched a petition in August 2013 targeting many of the GMA's members, demanding that Monsanto, General Mills, Kellogg's, Kraft, Pepsico and 60 other major food and chemical companies stop trying to keep Americans in the dark about which products contain genetically engineered ingredients. The petition has collected more than 100,000 signatures to date.
Polls show that more than 90% of American consumers want to know about the food they're eating; 64 countries around the world require mandatory labeling of GE foods.