Monsanto has poured $4.7 million into the campaign to defeat an initiative to label genetically modified food in Colorado.
The funds went to the No on 105 Coalition, which hopes it can beat Proposition 105, one of four statewide ballot measures Colorado voters will see on their November ballots. If passed, the measure would require most food made with genetically modified material (GMOs) to be labeled "Produced With Genetic Engineering" starting July 1, 2016.
The GMO-labeling effort is backed by Right to Know Colorado, which says its "movement is built on the foundation that we have the basic right to know what is in our food and what we are feeding our families."
The campaign contribution continues a pattern of big spending to defeat state GMO labeling efforts, such as those in California and Washington, not only by by the St. Louis-based agribusiness giant but by other industry groups like the Grocery Manufacturers Association, ConAgra Foods and PepsiCo.
According to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group, industry groups disclosed $27.5 million of spending in the first half of 2014 towards lobbying expenditures that made reference to GMO labeling—a surge from such spending in 2013.
The Union of Concerned Scientists noted that Monsanto has frequently used its deep pockets for influence:
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Monsanto consistently outspends all other agribusiness companies and interest groups to protect and maintain industrial agriculture’s dominance over our food system.
But all the spending has apparently not been sufficient, as Monsanto Chief Executive, Hugh Grant said earlier this year, "There’s a recognition we need to do more" to win in the GMO debate.
Despite the well-funded opposition, the pro-labeling effort is forging ahead.
In a recent op-ed published in the Denver Post, Right to Know Colorado co-chair Larry Cooper writes:
Over the last two years, the world's largest chemical and biotech seed companies and America's giant food manufacturers have spent nearly $70 million to defeat GMO labeling initiatives in California and Washington. In just three weeks, those opposed to Proposition 105 raised $1.4 million, dwarfing the $22,000 raised by Right to Know Colorado.
While these spending differences are staggering, Right to Know Colorado's statewide grassroots support will continue to fight for greater transparency in our food system through this GMO labeling initiative despite the well-funded corporate opposition.