WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Opponents of mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients, or “GMO foods,” spent nearly three times as much in lobbying expenditures in the first half of 2014 as they did in all of 2013, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) said in a report.
Food and biotechnology companies and organizations disclosed $27.5 million in lobbying expenditures that referenced GMO labeling in the first two quarters of this year, compared with $9.3 million in 2013, according to the report. EWG supports mandatory GMO labeling..
The spending increase coincides with the introduction in April of a bill sponsored by Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G. K. Butterfield, D-N.C., that would preempt state legislative efforts to mandate GMO labels on food products. The “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” creates a federal standard for voluntarily labeling foods that are genetically modified and requires additional FDA reviews for foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients.
According to the EWG analysis, the Grocery Manufacturers Association disclosed $2.4 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to GMO labeling in the first two quarters of 2014. The association’s member organizations separately disclosed an additional $10.6 million in that period, including $7.1 million by beverage companies Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
In contrast, supporters of GMO labeling disclosed $1.6 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to labeling in 2013 and $1.9 million in the first two quarters of 2014, according to the report.
Proponents support legislation introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that would require mandatory labeling nationwide.
EWG also reported that Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences did not report lobbying specifically on either piece of legislation in 2014 or in the first quarter of 2014, but Monsanto did disclose lobbying expenditures that made specific reference to Pompeo’s bill in the second quarter of 2014.
In May, Vermont became the first state to enact legislation to require GMO labeling. Connecticut and Maine passed GMO labeling laws that would go into effect if other Northeastern states pass similar laws.
Oregon and Colorado will have GMO labeling ballot initiatives this fall.
According to EWG’s analysis, GMO labeling opponents spent $67.9 million to defeat ballot initiatives in California in 2012 and Washington in 2013. Spending to defeat the ballot initiatives this November in Oregon and Colorado is reported at just over $548,000 as of Sept. 3.
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