- Washington State's attorney general, Bob Ferguson, alleges the Grocer Manufacturers Association illegally collected and spent $7 million in a bid to stop a proposal to require labels on genetically modified foods.
- Ferguson says the GMA set up special accounts to fund its election drive, then shielded the names of contributors.
- The association, which represents dozens of the global giants of the food business, issued a statement saying it "takes great care to understand and comply with all state election and campaign finance laws" and would "review its actions in Washington state and relevant statutes and continue to cooperate with state authorities to fully resolve the issue as promptly as possible."
There is considerable debate about the safety of genetically modified foods. And we recognize that the debate tends to more emotional than scientific. But there are two things we'd like to see food manufacturers consider. First, the fact that the debate is based in feelings, particularly fear and anger, rather than in data, is immaterial. Telling people they don't have a right to know about things that frighten them is not a wise public-relations strategy. Second, telling people they also don't have a right to know who it is that doesn't want them to have a right to know, may be the dumbest public-relations move possible. In an election battle about transparency, being secretive is not smart. Nor, at least according to Mr. Ferguson, is it legal.