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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) will be holding a “Litigation” Conference February 25-27th at the Ritz Carlton, in Dana Point. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss legal issues in the food, beverage, and consumer product industry. According to “Supermarket News,” the planned topics include domestic and international product liability litigation; FSMA regulations, and class action suits. That sounds like something one would expect to learn about at a litigation conference, however, the advertisement for this one has an emphasis on “labeling.”
I wonder if there will be any discussion about the GMA’s “money laundering” lawsuit filed by Washington State’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson. An article in the “Sustainable Pulse” written last October stated:
Washington State’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit this week against the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), big food’s national lobby group representing brands like General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kraft and Pepsico, for violating the state’s campaign disclosure laws. Ferguson alleges that GMA, the largest contributor to the ‘No on 522′ campaign, illegally collected and spent a sum of $7.2 million to defeat Washington’s GE labeling initiative, while hiding the identity of its contributors.
Spending huge amounts of money to defeat Washington’s initiative is not the first time the GMA has played dirty politics. They spent millions to defeat Prop 37, California’s Right to Know initiative in 2012.
In 2005, GMA was a founding member of the “Alliance for American Advertising”, whose stated purpose was to defend the food industry’s alleged First Amendment right to advertise to children and to promote voluntary self-regulation as an alternative to government action.
A coalition of organizations that represent consumers are planning a protest outside the hotel Saturday, February 22nd called “Operation Shopping Cart – Expose the GMA.” I spoke with one of the main organizers of Saturday’s event, DMarie Mulattieri, about why she is concerned with the GMA regulating what is allowed to be labeled on our foods.
“The GMA is a trade association of the food industry. It represents the world’s largest branded food, beverage and consumer product companies. The Grocery Manufacturers Association has taken a stand AGAINST labeling GMOs. If consumers want to know what is in their food they have the right. The GMA doesn’t think so. The GMA is about maximizing profits for its participating food suppliers, they care nothing about the health of the consumer.
Operation Shopping Cart – Expose the GMA is being sponsored by a coalition of organizations that represent the consumer. We have nothing to gain except our health and health of the people that choose to listen to our message. The GMA plans to sue any community/state that passes GMO Labeling laws or declares GMO Free Zones. In their minds, labels equate to bad PR. In our minds, we hope it wakes the consumer up to further research the safety of GMOs.
The GMA plans on totally deceiving the American consumer by having the FDA allow GMO foods to be labeled as “natural.” There is nothing natural about genetically engineered foods. This is tampering with the DNA of the seed, it is not hybridization.
Besides attacking our democratic process and deceiving the consumer, the GMA is also attacking the State of Washington’s elections Disclosure Law that requires full disclosure of top funders in election advertising. Why? Because Washington found the GMA guilty of money laundering $11 million dollars used to defeat Washington’s GMO Labeling initiative, I-522 in full violation of their state disclosure laws. The GMA is more evil than Monsanto.”
I think the average American consumer still believes the government agency, the FDA, is responsible for making sure that our food is safe to eat. If the FDA doesn’t think GMO foods need to be labeled then who are we to argue with them? Mulattieri argues:
“The FDA would like Americans to believe the myth that their approval is equivalent to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Unfortunately, that is simply not true. Consumers can no longer trust their government to make decisions in their favor. The cross over of ex-Monsanto employees or consultants that now hold government positions is astonishing. Obama appointed Monsanto’s VP of Public Policy as the FDA commissioner! Linda Fisher, former VP Government & Public Affairs for Monsanto was appointed as the Deputy Admin for the EPA! Roger Beachy, former Director of Monsanto Danforth Center was appointed by Obama to be the Director of USDA NIFA and the list goes on and on. We basically have foxes guarding the hen house.
Mulattieri went on to say:
“Our goal is to educate more people as to the dangers of GMOs and how deceptive agri-business and government have become in dealing with the American consumer. It is our goal that consumers will stop relying on information purported as truth, when in reality it is simply propaganda designed to drive up profits. We all must take responsibility
Second, we will let the GMA know that their plans to confuse the American consumer, to restrict our right to know what is in our food, and to desecrate our democratic process is well known and that we will not stand by and allow it to happen. We stopped a war in Syria, we will stop the GMA. Americans are not ones to roll over when injustice is happening. They just need to know. That’s what Operation Shopping Cart – Expose the GMA is all about…exposing the injustice in the United States. Over 64 countries have GMO labeling laws our outright bans and so should the United States!”
Members of the GMA can try to silence those who want food GMO labeled. They can continue to “buy” politicians and government agencies all they want, but they should remember that we, the consumer have the power to decide which companies will survive this food fight. Many food manufacturers are already jumping off the “GMO ship” and voluntarily changing their formula to GMO-free. Will those who attend the litigation conference be wise enough to listen to their customers or will they fall for the slick attorneys spiel on how to “sue” their way to profits?
If you want to join Saturday’s action, you can visit their Face Book Page and sign up.
Current coalition partners include:
Americans Organized for Change
Food and Water Watch
GMO Free Orange County
Label GMOs: California’s Grassroots
March Against Monsanto – Laguna Beach, CA
Moms Across America
Organic Consumers Association
Overpass Light Brigade – San Diego
Yo Soy Maiz
Here is the new Face Book page where you can find out more about Saturdays action.
And just in case this page disappears, here is the event poster: