business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Olympian has a story about the continued influx of donations to both sides in the battle over mandated labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms ( GMOs) - Initiative 522, which is on the ballot on November 5.

According to the story, “The Grocery Manufacturers Association contributed $3.78 million since Thursday to the No on 522 committee, bringing the total contribution by the processed-food industry PAC's members to more than $11 million - or more than half of the record $21.46 million raised by the opponents. DuPont Pioneer, a biotech firm producing genetically engineered seeds, gave another $400,000 on Friday.” Monsanto, the chemical firm with a vested interest in preventing the initiative from becoming law, reportedly has contributed more than $5 million to the no-on-522 effort. The GMA contributions have been funded by companies that include Pepsico, Coca-Cola and Nestle, the story says.

Anti-mandated labeling forces appear to have raised less than half as much money, with public records showing that about $9.1 million has been contributed to efforts to get the initiative passed.

The Olympian reports that “a recent Elway Poll showed the GMO-labeling measure was leading by just four points after a month of heavy advertising especially by labeling opponents - including a huge swing from a month ago when Elway said I-522 was leading by 45 points. A similar GMO measure was leading in California a year ago until opponents armed with $46 million launched a late barrage of television ads that turned the tide.”

In a related note, the story also says that Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson intends to seek “penalties” against GMA, saying that the trade association deliberately tried to conceal the identities of companies that were funding its campaign contributions; GMA only released the names when Ferguson’s office filed a lawsuit against it, charging the association with violating state campaign finance laws.
KC's View:
I’ve expressed here before my general disgust with the role of money in politics, so I won’t beat that dead horse yet again. (Not to say I won’t beat it again tomorrow. Just not today.)

But here’s the dead horse I will beat today: my firm belief that the companies that are spending millions of dollars to defeat this measure do so at the risk of being on the wrong side of history. The transparency movement - which includes everything from product labeling to political donations - is only going to continue to gain momentum … and will even be fueled by the big money/big power/big influence efforts to control what people know.