Washington will not become the first state to mandate labeling on foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, if the food and biotech industries have anything to say about it. After a barrage of industry-funded ads against ballot initiative 522, support for labeling has dropped 20 points, from 66 percent favoring the law in early September to 46 percent in mid-October. Opposition, meanwhile, climbed to 42 percent from 21 percent.
Replicating their successful strategy to defeat California’s pro-labeling Proposition 37 last year, companies including Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer, Dow, and General Mills have unleashed millions of dollars to drown out labeling supporters. In 2012, chemical and processed food companies spent a whopping $46 million to kill initially overwhelming support for California’s labeling proposal, while anti-GMO advocates raised $9.2 million. This time around, business and industry groups have spent $21 million — a record sum for Washington — on ads, nearly three times what pro-labeling interests have spent.
Besides these millions pouring in from out-of-state companies, just five actual people who live in Washington have donated a total of $550 to the anti-GMO campaign, according to campaign finance filings as of October 28. That’s .0025 percent of the opposition’s funding.
Thanks to industry clout, the GMO labeling movement has failed in 21 states, even though 93 percent of Americans support labeling.