A petition carrying more than 125,000 signatures was sent to major food and chemical companies demanding they stay out of the corporate campaigns opposing voter initiatives to require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods in Washington state and around the country, Just Label It and the Environmental Working Group said today.
“The support for this petition is more evidence that consumers insist on knowing more about the ingredients in their food and want companies to stop spending millions of dollars to deny them that right,” said EWG’s president Ken Cook. “These expensive lobbying efforts by the food and chemical industries are sending consumers the message that they have something to hide.”
The 65 companies targeted donated more than $45 million last year to narrowly defeat a labeling initiative (Proposition 37) in California. Nearly half of those companies have contributed $17 million to the “No on 522″ campaign in Washington state.
The list of companies fighting GE labeling in Washington state include Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Nestle USA, General Mills and Kellogg’s Company, according to documents filed with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission. The full list of companies was made available after the Grocery Manufacturers Association got slapped with a lawsuit and was pressured by consumer advocacy groups, including EWG and JLI, for more transparency.
“Smart companies like Mars and Unilever have recognized that the fight is worse than the label,” said JLI Executive Director Scott Faber. “Denying consumers the right to know what’s in their food costs more in lost brand reputation and consumer loyalty than the cost of adding the words ‘may contain genetically engineered ingredients’ to the back of the label.”
Polls consistently show more than 90 percent of Americans support labeling of genetically engineered foods. More than 60 countries around the world already mandate labeling.
A total of 26 states in the U.S. have introduced labeling in 2013. Two states, Connecticut and Maine, have already approved GE labeling laws. Voters in Washington state began casting ballots last week to approve labeling in their state.