TV ads against food-labeling initiative to launch this week

Opponents of a food labeling initiative are gearing up to air their first television commercials in an ad campaign expected to cost millions of dollars and run up to Election Day in November.

A copy of a contract filed with the Federal Communication Commission shows the No on Initiative 522 campaign has booked $72,000 worth of advertising this week on KOMO-TV in Seattle. A 30-second spot would air beginning with the early-morning newscast Monday, according to the contract.

Additional contracts reserve time every day on the station through the last day of voting, Nov. 5.

A representative of the campaign declined to confirm the schedule, which could be amended after the filing of the contracts.

“I am not going to give out our playbook,” said campaign spokeswoman Dana Bieber.

Supporters of the measure are anticipating the launch of television ads now that the opposition has received millions of dollars from Monsanto and DuPont, two corporations that worked to defeat a similar labeling measure in California in 2012.

“This goes to show these corporations are really more focused on protecting their bottom line than giving grocery shoppers in Washington state more information about their food,” said Elizabeth Larter, spokeswoman for the Yes on 522 campaign.

If passed, Initiative 522 would require many food products made with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such. This would apply primarily to processed and packaged foods sold in supermarkets and other retail outlets.

What this means, for example, is a product made with corn, canola or soybeans grown from scientifically created seed stock would need a label to inform the buyer of the modified ingredients. Snack foods such as chips and soft drinks that contain artificial ingredients would need labels starting in July 2015.

Supporters argue the measure is about giving shoppers more information about what’s in the food they consume. Labels would not be required on food sold in restaurants nor on dairy and meat products, even if the cattle are fed genetically engineered foods.

Opponents counter that I-522 would create new and costly burdens on farmers and businesses and would increase food costs. They also say the state will need to spend money to enforce the labeling law.

As of Friday, the No on 522 Committee had raised nearly $12 million in donations and pledges, according to reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. After expenditures, the committee had a little over $10 million available.

“We plan to use our resources to share with voters how misleading 522 is and how it is going to increase grocery costs by hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year,” Bieber said.

The majority of the opposition money arrived this month from the two companies, which are among the nation’s biggest producers of genetically modified seed products.

Monsanto wrote a $4.6 million check on Sept. 5, pushing its total donations to the campaign to roughly $4.85 million. On Sept. 10, DuPont gave $3.2 million and is now up to nearly $3.4 million in contributions.

The level of spending should come as no surprise. Last year, the two firms topped all contributors to the effort to defeat Proposition 37 in California.

In that campaign, Monsanto gave $8.1 million and DuPont $5.4 million, according to state campaign finance reports compiled by Ballotpedia.org.

In Washington, as of Friday, the Yes on 522 committee had collected $3.5 million in donations and, after expenditures, had about $2.6 million available in cash. The single largest donor is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which has given roughly $1 million.

Reports filed with the FCC show the committee reserved time starting in mid-October on KOMO.

A statewide poll released last week shows the measure enjoys strong backing among potential voters. Of the 406 registered voters surveyed in the Elway Poll, 66 percent expressed support, with only 21 percent opposed. The survey has a margin of error of 5 percent.

Larter predicted the numbers will change once ads begin airing.

“This will be a competitive race,” she said.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, front, talks to reporters in Olympia, Wash., Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, as Secretary of Health Umair Shah looks on. Inslee announced that starting Nov. 15, people in the state will need to either provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test in order to attend large events. (AP Photo/ Rachel La Corte)
With vaccine deadline here, some fired in Snohomish County

Some workers sought an injunction against Gov. Inslee’s mandate. That effort fell flat Monday, the deadline to get vaccinated.

Hillside homes in Mukilteo are seen from the ferry line on Oct. 20. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
Mukilteo asks for input on housing density, and it’s complicated

Here’s a guide to what voters should know about the advisory ballot measure. What does it actually do?

2 years later, charges filed in ‘unusual’ deadly crash in Everett

Dakotah Allett, 27, crashed into two vehicles on the side of I-5, leaving one woman dead, the new charges say.

Lake Stevens worker’s protection order granted against boss

The worker and his boss, Public Works Director Eric Durpos, were put on leave for an incident at a grievance meeting.

Police: Man showed up to ex-wife’s Everett home, stabbed ex-roommate

The suspect, 47, of Seattle, was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree assault.

Edmonds school returns to remote learning after 26 COVID-19 cases

The Madrona K-8 school building was closed Tuesday due to the outbreak. It is expected to reopen Nov. 1.

Top (L-R): Nicholas Swett, Stephanie Vignal, Benjamin Briles, Connie Allison. Bottom (L-R): Eric J. Cooke,  Brian Holtzclaw, Melissa Duque, Adam R. Morgan.
Mill Creek candidates divided on future of housing, growth

Eight people are vying for four City Council seats. Some of them are railing against new apartments.

Top (L-R): Louis Harris, Peter Zieve, Kevin Stoltz. Bottom (L-R): Tom Jordal, Steve Schmalz, Alex Crocco.
Race for Mukilteo City Council is a mix of old and new names

Housing, waterfront and public safety top the list of concerns for candidates.

Most Read