WA Attorney General sues Grocery Manufacturers Association over state GMO labeling campaign

Bob Ferguson e
AG Bob Ferguson, Photo by Joe Mabel

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office is seeking at least $14 million from a food industry association, alleging it tried to secretly finance the campaign against a GMO labeling initiative in 2013, according to previously sealed court documents released [February 17].

State attorneys are scheduled to present their case [February 19] in Thurston County Superior Court, seeking an immediate judgment against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, whose members contributed $11 million to defeat Initiative 522.

In a counter motion, the association seeks to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that its members were exercising their First Amendment right to speak with one voice.

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The case has been pending since 2013 when the state sued the association, alleging the trade group sought to shield brand name companies from criticism for opposing I-522, which would have required the food industry to label products with genetically modified ingredients. The measure received 49 percent of the vote and failed.

. . . .

“GMA engaged in an elaborate scheme to unlawfully shield its members’ contributions from public scrutiny,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a written statement. “They need to be held accountable.”

The association issued a statement stating that it had no interest in keeping the records sealed.

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“These documents simply confirm GMA’s efforts to exercise its First Amendment right to act as a single spokesperson for the common interest of its members,” according to the association.

. . . .

The AG has asked the court to levy “at a minimum” a penalty equal to the $14 million collected by Defense of Brands by late 2013.

Read full, original post: Washington AG seeks $14 million from food industry in GMO campaign suit

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