Whew! Every day seems like it brings a new volley of initiative 522 news—that's the GMO labeling initiative, for the permanently napping. Here's a quick run-through so you can look smart at parties. All you hippies and biotech researchers, here's your thread to go apoplectic in. You're welcome!
First, the poll: The Elway Poll, which said back in September that I-522 was a whopping 45 points ahead, 66 to 21 with 12 percent undecided, now says the initiative is basically too close to call. In a poll released yesterday, the initiative is running slightly ahead at 46–42, with 12 percent still undecided and a 5 percent margin of error.
Y'think that's because of all the ads? No shit. Elway also says that 81 percent of voters interviewed had seen ads for one side or the other (or both). In response to the poll, No on 522 spokeswoman Dana Bieber says, "The more [voters] know about 522, the less they like it," while yes side spokeswoman Elizabeth Larter says, "Even though we're being outspent 3 to 1, Washingtonians still favor having more information about their food and how it was produced." Zing!
$7.2 million of the no camp's $17 million war chest came from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which, as we've reported, has been hit with a lawsuit by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who alleges that the GMA was basically behaving as a political action committee without disclosing their donors.
In response, they've now disclosed all their donors and the amounts they gave; that $7.2 million came from 34 companies, including Pepsi, Coke, Nestlé, General Mills, and pretty much all the other big players on grocery store shelves. The full donor list is below the jump for your perusal. For California's similar initiative, these companies gave to the no campaign directly; this time it appears they may have been trying to avoid any consumer backlash for fighting a labeling requirement that's generally really popular with the public. (Bieber notes that it was the GMA, the No on 522 campaign's biggest donor, not the campaign itself, that is being sued for allegedly violating campaign finance laws.)
Meanwhile, scientists working at Monsanto and Syngenta were awarded the World Food Prize last week, and lots of people are flipping their shit, reigniting a debate about whether GMO crops are the right way to solve world hunger—a lot of people believe it's a silver bullet, others think it's mostly a marketing campaign to make the opposition to other GMO crops more difficult.