State AG pursues penalty against food lobby group

SEATTLE — Washington state’s attorney general said Tuesday he will still seek penalties against a food industry group that recently identified donors who contributed money to oppose a food labeling initiative.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson will move ahead with a lawsuit filed last week against the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Ferguson has accused the group of improperly collecting the cash in a manner that shielded the identities of the companies to protect them from scrutiny.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has since identified about three dozen companies that contributed a combined $7.2 million to help defeat Initiative 522, which would require labeling on genetically modified foods in Washington state.

Ferguson said in a statement that the case involved concealing a record-setting amount of contributions and there must be sanctions for violating the law.

“We must deter these types of violations and ensure our elections remain transparent,” Ferguson said.

No court date has been set in the lawsuit.

I-522 has shaped up to be one of the costliest initiative fights ever in Washington state, with many parts of the food industry contributing large chunks of cash to oppose the measure.

PepsiCo Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and Nestle SA each contributed more than $1 million to the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s effort to oppose the measure, according to records filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission last week. Other prominent contributors included General Mills Inc., Kellogg Co., The Hershey Co. and ConAgra Foods Inc.

Supporters say consumers have a right to know whether foods they buy contain genetically engineered ingredients and contend that the GE label is no different from other food labels. Opponents say that it would cost farmers and food processors and that such a label implies the food is somehow less safe.

In California last year, voters narrowly rejected a genetically engineered labeling measure after opponents mounted a $46 million defense.

———

Follow AP Writer Mike Baker on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MikeBakerAP

More in Local News

A wobbly calf grows into a 1,800-pound Lake Stevens behemoth

A shaggy and sometimes cranky bison is the last of his herd. He lives amid encroaching suburbia.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Officials ID man shot and killed in apparent Everett robbery

Police believe the victim may have known the shooter, who drove away before the officers arrived.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

Missing Marysville woman found safe out of state

A Marysville senior who was reported missing in March has… Continue reading

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Front Porch

EVENTS Seahawks event postponed A Toys for Tots Blue Friday fundraiser that… Continue reading

Friend or stranger, Sikhs extend hand to those in need

Sikhs have accepted people of all backgrounds as equals, regardless of race, social class or religion.

Theft lands former insurance salesman 50 days in jail

A former insurance salesman is expected to report to jail… Continue reading

Most Read