The Grocery Manufacturers Association made a “systematic effort to conceal the sources of $11 million in contributions” to defeat a 2013 ballot initiative dealing with genetically modified food, according to Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who announced this week that new documents were being unsealed in an ongoing lawsuit against the association.
Ferguson’s office has reached an agreement with Grocery Manufacturers Association to unseal documents related to the campaign finance case, according to a press release. Those documents include internal meeting minutes, memos and agendas that Ferguson said shows the association was concealing contributions from its members.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association is a trade association with members like PepsiCo, Nestle and Coca-Cola. The group was the largest donor to the “No on 522” campaign, which fought Initiative 522 in Washington requiring labels for all foods containing GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.
The initiative was narrowly defeated in the November 2013 election, 51 percent to 49 percent. Ferguson first sued the Grocery Manufacturers Association in 2013.
The state filed a motion for a summary judgment in January asking a judge to rule in favor of the state without a full trial. A hearing on the motion is set for 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19 in Thurston County Superior Court.
According to the 27-page motion, the Grocery Manufacturers Association was able to “funnel millions of dollars to the ‘No on 522’ campaign without publicly disclosing their involvement.”
“Indeed, GMA encouraged them to deny that they were funding the campaign. But their plan was a flagrant violation of Washington campaign disclosure laws,” the motion said.
TVW produced an hour-long documentary on the GMO labeling debate in 2013. You can watch the documentary and find out more at wafoodfight.com.