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Money Starts To Flow In Colorado GMO Labeling Fight

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Luke Runyon
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KUNC and Harvest Public Media

In just a two week period, the amount of money flowing into Colorado’s battle over whether or not to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, colloquially known as GMOs, has reached staggering amounts. Voters will decide Proposition 105 in November.

From the last week of August to September 10, those opposed to labeling – organized as an issue committee called the No On 105 Coalition – raised $1.4 million, dwarfing the $22,000 raised in the same period by those in favor, Colorado Right To Know GMO.

In sum, the No On 105 Coalition has roughly $1.2 million in cash on hand compared to $14,000 on hand for the labeling proponents with Colorado Right to Know.

Colorado Right To Know’s modest coffers are mostly being fed by small individual donors with a few larger checks from advocacy groups like Food Democracy Now and the Organic Consumers Fund.

The No on 105 Coalition has a diverse group of food manufacturers, agribusiness interests and biotech spenders donating large sums of money. Some of the biggest donors during the latest filing period:

  • PepsiCo - $500,000
  • The J.M. Smucker Company - $345,000
  • ConAgra Foods, Inc. - $250,000
  • Smithfield Foods, Inc. - $200,000
  • Shearer’s Foods, Inc. - $35,000
  • Sunny Delight Beverage Company - $25,000

The issue of GMO labeling is contentious and controversial. Proponents argue for transparency in food labeling, while opponents say the additional labels are superfluous and point to the fact that genetically modified foods have been in the food supply for decades with no recorded negative health effects.

A citizen panel in Colorado recently narrowly voted 11-9 in favor of the labeling initiative.

Expect the money to keep flowing in. A similar ballot initiative in Washington state in 2013 set campaign finance records there.

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