"We are not going to sit down for that (labeling)," Cathleen
Enright, spokeswoman for the effort, said in an interview. “We want
people to know how their food is grown ... we support a right to
know. It is the mechanism that we can’t abide.”
Monsanto Co., Dow Chemical and other GMO crop backers last summer
kicked off an interactive website, called GMO Answers, as the
centerpiece of a broad effort to win over consumers. A speakers'
tour and social media advertising are part of the effort.
The group has committed to spending millions more annually for
several more years on this campaign, said Enright. She would not
provide specifics on the campaign spending.
The money spent on the marketing campaign comes alongside more than
$80 million spent since 2012 by the biotech and food industries to
defeat mandatory labeling at the state and federal levels, according
to a report issued Tuesday by the Environmental Working Group.
The companies spent $9 million lobbying Congress in the first
quarter of 2014 alone, the report said.
Despite the efforts, the industry still is fighting an uphill
battle, Enright said. Consumers and lawmakers who fear the crops are
unsafe and/or environmentally harmful are seeking mandatory labeling
of GMO foods in many states and at the federal level. Oregon has
placed GMO labeling on its November ballot, and Colorado citizens
are gathering signatures for a similar ballot initiative.
Still, Enright said, the GMO Answers campaign has made notable
progress in combating consumer fears, with executives from Monsanto,
Dow, DuPont and others fielding more than 600 questions from the
public through the website's online forum.
[to top of second column]
One point the companies are pushing is what they say is a consensus
in the scientific community on the safety of their products, said
Enright. Many international scientists dispute that such a consensus
exists, but the industry says studies showing concerns are not
The group has tracked media reports about GMOs since the campaign
began and has seen "measurable change," Enright said. "We’ve seen
the positive tone ... increase. That tells us we are having an
Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It, which supports
mandatory GMO food labeling, said the industry efforts are falling
short. In May, Vermont became the first U.S. state to pass a
mandatory GMO labeling law, one that requires no trigger before it
takes effect July 1, 2016.
"They are losing," Faber said. "After this explosion of anti-GMO
labeling lobbying.. (they) have so little to show for their
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City)
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