Investors Urge Biotech, Food Industry to Stay Out of GMO Labeling Fight

yes on I-522

by | Oct 10, 2013

yes on I-522Environmentalist and shareholder advocacy groups have filed resolutions urging Monsanto, DuPont de Nemours and Dow Chemical Company to stop using corporate funds to fight a referendum in Washington that, if it passed, would require special labels on raw and processed foods made from genetically modified crops.

Opponents to Washington’s I-522 initiative have donated $17 million to defeat the referendum, Reuters reports. The initiative will be on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

As You Sow, the Green Century Equity Fund, the Environmental Working Group and the US Public Interest Research Group plan to also file resolutions with a number of food and beverage companies including General Mills, Abbott Laboratories, Kraft Foods Group, Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo — all companies that funded a previous campaign opposing a nearly identical referendum in California.

A letter signed by 30 investors representing $11 billion in assets under management will be sent to the top 50 corporate donors that supported the No on Proposition 37 campaign in California asking the companies to stay out of elections on controversial public policy issues.

The 2012 California referendum was defeated by 2 percentage points after opponents such as Monsanto and PepsiCo spent $46 million on an advertising blitz right before election day.

In August, organic food manufacturer Amy’s Kitchen, Farm Aid, Clif Bar & Company, The Urban Farm, Organic Seed Alliance and the Center for Food Safety were among more than 150 farm organizations, millers, retailers, bakeries, seed businesses and food processors that urged the US Department of Agriculture to improve its oversight of experimental trials of genetically engineered crops.

The groups signed a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that centered on their concern over the discovery this summer of unapproved genetically engineered wheat in Oregon. The delegation asked the USDA to stop new approvals of genetically engineered wheat field trials at least until the contamination investigation is complete.

A report released in May from watchdog group Food & Water Watch accuses the USDA of partnering with Monsanto and other GMO seed companies to push biotech crops abroad, forcing farmers to buy genetically modified seeds and agrichemicals.

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