| NEW YORK, July 29
NEW YORK, July 29 U.S. food companies spent
almost as much lobbying Congress in the first quarter of 2014 as
they did in the full year in 2013, a sign the industry may have
intensified its fight against state labeling requirements for
genetically engineered foods, according to a report released
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), along with
companies such as PepsiCo Inc and Coca-Cola Co
contributed to the $9 million in spending related to such
lobbying efforts in the first quarter of 2014, according to an
Environmental Working Group (EWG) report.
The group analyzed lobbying disclosure forms that cited
labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms
(GMOs), as well as other policy issues.
That compared with $9.3 million spent on the issue in 2013,
according to EWG, a Washington-based nonprofit that supports GMO
Supporters of GMO labeling spent $1.6 million in 2013 and
roughly $400,000 in the first quarter of this year, the report
EWG noted that the burst of first-quarter spending on
lobbying comes as GMO crop companies are increasing their own
The lobbying spending increase was partly designed to
muster congressional support for a federal bill that was
introduced in April and aims to nullify state efforts to require
GMO labeling, Libby Foley, an EWG policy analyst, said in the
Michael Gruber, vice president of federal affairs for the
GMA, which represents food and beverage makers, said the
industry's first-quarter spending paid for lobbying on multiple
issues, not just GMO labeling. The amounts are not itemized by
issue in disclosure forms
"The food industry has a tremendous number of policy issues
that it's dealing with right now," including compliance with a
2011 food safety modernization law as well as a farm bill passed
earlier this year that trims food stamps for the poor and
expands federal crop insurance, Gruber said.
There has been significant lobbying spending at the state
level too. GMO labeling opponents spent $67.9 million to defeat
recent ballot initiatives in California and Washington, the
In May, Vermont became the first state to mandate GMO
labeling. Connecticut and Maine have passed laws that would go
into effect if other northeastern states approve similar
legislation, the report said.
Oregon will consider a similar ballot initiative this fall
and dozens of other state bills have been introduced.
GMOs were introduced to the public in the 1990s. They are
ubiquitous in U.S. packaged food.
GMO crop developers and their backers say genetically
modified crops are proven safe. But some international
scientists say studies show a range of concerns. U.S. consumers
also have their doubts.
According to a biweekly survey of 500 adults by market
research firm NPD Group, 56 percent said they're concerned about
the health hazards posed by genetically modified foods.
(Reporting by Anjali Athavaley; Editing by Jilian Mincer and