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If you doubt that big money and lies can pervert elections, look at Initiative 522 in Washington State. It had been put on the ballot by a grassroots coalition of consumers, organic producers, environmentalists, and others who want honesty in food labeling.
The initiative would’ve required grocery manufacturers that slip genetically manipulated organisms into their products to state that fact on their food labels. But the industry ran a dishonest, multimillion-dollar PR campaign, including ads to scare voters by falsely claiming that the truth-in-labeling provision would jack up each family’s annual food costs by an average of more than $450.
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Especially dishonest (and likely illegal) was the industry’s crude attempt to keep voters from knowing who was funding the attack ads. A front group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, set up a dummy campaign account called “Defense of Brand,” which really was a Hide-the-Brand artifice. It let big-name food giants put some $11 million into the no-labeling campaign, without revealing their participation and angering consumers.
But the state attorney general exposed this dodge and forced the giants to fess up. Behind this hoax-within a hoax-within another hoax were such names as Campbell Soup, Coke, Nestlé, and Pepsi. With their money and deceptions, they prevailed in the vote, but that same combo of cash and lies also infuriated millions of consumers and others across the country who seek nothing more than a basic level of corporate integrity – and a minimal level of control over the food they bring into their homes.
The GMO profiteers can run, but finally they won’t be able to hide from the growing number of Americans who’re onto them – and literally fed up with their tactics. GMO labeling laws are currently being pushed in some 20 other states – the fun is just beginning.
“Big Food Wants to Crush the GMO Labeling Movement,” www.motherjones.com, November 8, 2013.
“Junk Food Lobby Forced to Disclose Secret Donors in Campaign to Stop GMO Labeling,” www.alternet.org, October 23, 2013.
“Food Companies Claim Victory Against Labeling Initiative in Washington State,” The New York Times, November 7, 2013.