Fine for US food industry for concealing campaign donors

The Washington Supreme Court has sentenced the food industry to a record fine of $18 million on appeal.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association GMA campaigned in 2013 against a food label bill stating gnome techniques used in foodstuffs. The GMA did not say that the multi-million dollar campaign, including lengthy lawsuits, was paid for by large agro and food concerns such as Coca-Cola, General Mills and Nestlé.

The donors were not disclosed until after Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office filed a lawsuit for violation of state campaign finance laws.

In the United States, politically-oriented campaigns and actions must state who the sponsor is. This applies not only to commercials for politicians, but also to the financing of public campaigns.

The court said the GMA's attempts to disguise the identities of the companies that funded the 2013 campaign go to the heart of open and transparent action.

The GMA had spent more than $11 million to block the bill to label genetically modified food products.

In the United States, not only can the federal federal government enact rules and laws about food labels, but each state can also enact its own laws provided they do not conflict with state laws. As a result, the rules in some states are much stricter than in others. That also plays a role in the Bayer/Monsanto lawsuits that are all being filed in California.