Friday, October 18, 2013

Washington State Sues Grocery Manufacturers Association Over Campaign Against GMO Labeling

On October 16, the Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit in Thurston County Superior Court alleging that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) violated the state’s campaign disclosure laws.  The AG alleges that GMA did not disclose its contributors to the more than $7 million it collected and spent in opposition to Initiative 522 which would require the labeling of genetically engineered foods, seeds, and seed products in Washington.

The complaint specifically alleges that GMA violated disclosure laws by “1) soliciting and receiving contributions and making expenditures to oppose Initiative 522 without properly registering and reporting as a political committee, 2) failing to identify a treasurer for the political committee, 3) failing to identify a depository for funds collected by the political committee, and 4) concealing the true source of the contributions received and made by Defendant GMA.”  The state is asking for the court to compel GMA to adhere to state disclosure laws and seeking civil damages.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association is a trade association based in Washington, D.C. representing more than 300 food, beverage, and consumer product manufacturers, distributors, retailers and more.

Initiative 522 is set to be voted upon by the public on November 5.

The complaint can be found here.  The full text of Ballot Initiative Measure No. 522 is available on the Washington State website.  For further information on GMA, please visit their website.

Written by Alyssa Looney – Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
October 18, 2013

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