The campaign to pass I-522, the initiative that would mandate labeling most genetically modified (or GMO) food, can point to its parades of supporters. More than 350,000 voters signed their petition, making it the second most popular initiative in Washington State history after pot legalization. Their donor list on the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission's website is a stunning 471 separate pages long. And then there's more: Elizabeth Larter, a 522 spokeswoman, explains that because campaigns aren't required to report contributions under $25, they've actually received more than 13,000 donations. It's a model of widespread, grassroots organization to make big businesses disclose what's in their products.
Then there is the other corner.
The No on 522 campaign has a decidedly different kind of backing. For all their TV ads full of amber waves of grain and local farmers, their entire donor list can be counted on your fingers. The top five are the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—a conglomerate of food manufacturers—Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Bayer CropScience, and Dow AgroSciences.
"These are the same people who gave us DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, and napalm," says PCC Natural Markets spokeswoman Trudy Bialic.
She's not exaggerating for effect—those dangerous chemicals were all manufactured and sold by Monsanto or Dow Chemical. The total raised by the corporate food and chemical giants? Just over $17 million, the most money ever spent opposing an initiative in this state.