Industry lobbying boils over in bid to block labeling of genetically engineered food

Libby Foley

Companies and organizations opposed to labeling foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients disclosed $15.2 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to GE labeling in the second quarter of 2014, according to analysis updating a July EWG report. When combined with lobbying expenditures from the first quarter of 2014, these companies have disclosed $27.5 million in the first half of 2014 that made reference to GE labeling— nearly three times as much as they disclosed in all of 2013.

The burst of lobbying by food and biotechnology companies was partly designed to muster Congressional support for legislation that would block states from requiring GE labeling on food packages.  That bill, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act by advocates of GE labeling, was introduced on April 9 by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.).

In May, Vermont became the first state to enact legislation to require GE labeling, although industry has filed suit in an effort to block it. Connecticut and Maine have passed GE labeling laws that would go into effect if other northeastern states pass similar legislation.

Oregon and Colorado voters will consider GE labeling ballot initiatives this fall, and labeling bills have been introduced in 30 other states in 2013 and 2014.

Food and biotechnology companies and organizations disclosed $9.3 million in lobbying expenditures in 2013 that made reference to GE labeling and $27.5 million in the first two quarters of 2014 alone. The forms cite lobbying on GE labeling as well as other policy issues.

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