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Industry Profile: Grocery Manufacturers Association

Industry Profile: Grocery Manufacturers Association

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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) represents more than 300 of the United States' biggest food and beverage companies.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) represents more than 300 of the United States' biggest food and beverage companies.

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Published by: Food and Water Watch on Apr 03, 2014
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04/26/2014

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1
 
  
The GMA lobbies he ederal and sae governmens o keep business coss low or is members by keeping regulaions loose or even volunary. The prioriies o he GMA align wih is member companies’ botom lines, and no wih he healh and well-being o consumers. The GMA ighs o keep genei-cally engineered oods (GMOs) unlabeled, o oppose manda-ory counry-o-origin labeling and o block any limiaions on markeing junk ood o children. The GMA is governed by is Board o Direcors, made up o CEOs and company leaders o 50 o he member companies. The board represens some o he larges ood companies in he Unied Saes, including ConAgra, General Mills, Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, Dean Foods, Unilever, Kraf and Smih-ield.
3
 (See
 
Table.)
 
The GMA is a powerul player in Washingon. Beween 2001 and 2012, he GMA poliical acion commitee donaed more han $1 million o ederal candidaes, poliical paries and oher campaign commitees.
4
 Bu i is a much bigger presence roam-ing he halls o Congress. From 2004 o 2013, he GMA spen $38.9 million lobbying he U.S. Congress and ederal officials.
5
 In 2013 alone, he GMA spen $14.3 million lobbying on ood labeling, counry-o-origin labeling, labeling oods wih genei-cally engineered ingrediens (commonly known as GMO label-ing), ood markeing o children and oher regulaions affecing he ood and beverage indusry.
6
 According o he Cener or Responsive Poliics, in 2013, 32 ou o 38 GMA lobbyiss were well-conneced ormer legislaive or execuive branch saffers, including a 25-year veeran o he Food and Drug Adminisra-ion (FDA) who became a lobbyis afer heading he FDA’s ood saey office under Presiden George W. Bush.
7
 The GMA also has a srong ooprin on sae legislaures. The GMA and is employees donaed more han $785,000 o sae assembly candidaes and ballo measures in 24 saes and had lobbyiss in a leas 15 saes beween 2003 and 2012, accord-ing o he Insiue or Money in Sae Poliics.
8
 
      
The GMA has led he effor o deea GMO labeling effors a he sae level. The GMA and is member companies donaed a combined $54.7 million o deea GMO labeling ballo iniia-ives in Caliornia in 2012 and Washingon sae in 2013.
9
 (See Figure on page 3.) In 2012, GMA presiden Pamela Bailey declared ha deeaing Caliornia’s Prop 37 GMO labeling ballo iniiaive was he “single-highes prioriy or GMA [ha] year.”
10
 The GMA and is member companies narrowly deeaed he Caliornia ballo iniiaive (48.6 percen o voers suppored GMO labels and 51.4 percen opposed), hanks o he ood and bioechnology indusries’ $35.7 million in cam-paign adverising agains he iniiaive.
11
 In Caliornia, GMA member companies donaed direcly o he campaign o deea he GMO labeling iniiaive, bu some advocaes encouraged consumers o boycot ood companies ha opposed he measure, and shareholder advocaes urged companies o sop opposing GMO labeling effors.
12
 The ood indusry pulled ou heir checkbooks ye again o deea he 2013 Washingon sae GMO labeling iniiaive. Bu his ime, he GMA was he bigges conribuor o he opposi-ion campaign by collecing donaions rom is members, effecively unneling and concealing he corporae opposiion o GMO labeling. This was par o he GMA’s effor o “com-ba cerain hreas and beter shield companies rom atack.
13
T
he Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) represents more than 300 of the United States’ biggest food and beverage companies.
1
 GMA members also include some of the largest seed and biotechnology companies (like Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences and Syngenta).
2
 
    
FOOD
 
2
      
         
Gary Rodkin, ChairConAgra Foods$2,004,951 Kendall Powell, Vice ChairGeneral Mills$2,099,571 William Cyr, Treasurer/SecretarySunny Delight Beverages Co.$170,247
  
Sun Products Corp. J. P. BilbreyThe Hershey Co.$879,350  J. S. Brown IIIBruce Foods Corp.$42,864  John BryantKellogg Co.$1,113,000 Mark ClouseMondelez Global LLC$391,336 Sean ConnollyHillshire Brands$368,675 Brian CornellPepsiCo., Inc.$4,838,366  James CraigieChurch & Dwight Co., Inc.George DeeseFlowers Foods Inc.$387,199  J. Alexander Douglas, Jr.Coca Cola Co.$3,220,851 Brian DriscollDiamond Foods Inc.Stanley DunbarMoody Dunbar, Inc.$7,619 Gregg EnglesWhiteWave Foods Co.
  
Hormel Foods Corp.$544,703 Tom FerriterBush Brothers & Co.$23,565 C.J. FraleighShearers Foods Inc.$36,656  Joseph GalloE&J Gallo WineryRobert GamgortPinnacle Foods Group, LLC$441,525 David GeiseFurmano FoodsWilliam Gisel, Jr.Rich Products Corp.$283,211 Paul GrimwoodNestlé USA$2,989,806 Kenneth Guise, Jr.Knouse Foods Cooperative$188,546  James Hannan
  
Melanie HealeyProcter & Gamble Co.Bradley IrwinWelch Foods, Inc.$208,893 William JohnsonH. J. Heinz Co.$500,000 Donald KnaussThe Clorox Co.$57,155
  
Unilever$467,100 Christopher LischewskiBumble Bee Foods, LLC$472,965 Reid MacDonaldFaribault Foods Inc.$76,000 Apu ModyMars Food North America$498,350  John MorganMorgan Foods, Inc.Denise MorrisonCampbell Soup Co.$982,888 Gregory PageCargill, Inc.$381,522 Randy PapadellisOcean Spray Cranberries, Inc.$489,395 Clement PappasClement Pappas & Co., Inc.$130,547 Christopher PolicinskiLand OLakes, Inc.$298,178 C. Larry Pope
   
$683,900 Garry PrinceBimbo Bakeries USA$560,360 Richard SmuckerThe J. M. Smucker Co.$904,978 Thomas StokesTree Top, Inc.$110,600 Gregg TannerDean Foods Co.$428,503 W. Anthony VernonKraft Foods Group$2,000,500 David WestDel Monte Foods Co.$799,777 Alan WilsonMcCormick & Co., Inc.$396,569 David YandaLakeside Foods, Inc.Kevin HuntRalston Foods, Inc.
* Total contributed to defeat GMO labeling initiatives in California (2012) and Washington state (2013).
 
3
While ha approach may have helped proec GMA members rom public backlash, i poenially ran aoul o Washingon elecion laws. Washingon sae sued he GMA or allegedly illegally bundling corporae campaign conribuions and ailing o disclose he donors ha opposed he I-522 GMO labeling iniiaive.
14
 The GMA evenually disclosed is mem-bers’ conribuions, bu in January 2014 i iled a counersui challenging he consiuionaliy o Washingon’s campaign inance laws.
15
 Afer years o cosly conroversy over labeling in he saes, i migh seem ha he ood indusry would wan o make his issue go away and o give consumers wha hey wan: more inormaion abou wha hey’re eaing. Insead, he GMA is asking he ederal governmen o preven saes rom label-ing GMOs. In 2014,
Politico 
 leaked a GMA legislaive plan o allow only volunary GMO labeling (undercuting momenum or mandaory labeling) and o prohibi saes rom imple-mening GMO labeling laws i hey’re no idenical o he vol-unary ederal ramework.
16
 And o add insul o injury, he GMA even wans o allow GMO ingrediens in oods bear-ing a “naural” label, a currenly undeined and unregulaed markeing erm.
17
 
  
Consumers rely on nuriion labeling o make decisions abou he oods hey eed heir amilies. Bu he curren nuriion ac-panel labels on he back o ood packages are conusing, and many ood manuacurers place markeing gimmicks on he ron o he packaging ha suggess nuriional inormaion ha can be misleading.
18
 The Prevenion Insiue ound ha he majoriy o he manuacurers’ ron-o-package nuriional markeing inormaion was o quesionable value o consumers.
19
 In 2011, he GMA spearheaded an indusry-led volunary approach o ron-o-package nuriion labeling ha would include calories, sauraed a, sal and oal sugar as well as give manuacurers he abiliy o highligh posiive ingredi-ens (calcium, poassium, iber, ec.).
20
 The GMA volunary sysem would allow manuacurers o somewha decepively highligh healhul nuriens in less-han-healhy oods, such as he calcium in ice cream or iber in sugary cereal.
21
The GMA’s coordinaed volunary approach, including a $50 million markeing campaign, appeared o be an effor o deer ederal effors o se sandards or hese labels.
22
 The GMA dismissed he need or a ederal sandard or ron-o-pack-age labeling, counering ha consumers “wan o make heir own judgmens, raher han have governmen ell hem wha hey should or should no ea.”
23
Many consumer groups, public healh expers and even he FDA have recommended or considered a sandardized and simple ron-o-package labeling scheme like a raffic ligh or numerical scale ha would allow consumers o assess he overall nuriional qualiy o wha hey were buying.
24
 Bu he GMA’s effors have apparenly salled effors o develop a com-monsense and sandardized ron-o-package labeling sysem.
  
In he las decade, he public has pressured he ood indusry o rein in heir markeing o children in he wake o drasic increases in childhood obesiy. Considerable research has shown ha he oods ha are mos heavily adverised on Saurday morning children’s elevision programs are in direc conras o dieary guidelines, and hese oods end o have high levels o a, sugars and sal.
25
 Responding o he pres-sure and preemping regulaory guidelines, he GMA, along wih oher ood manuacurers and adverising rade organi-zaions, co-ounded he Alliance or American Adverising in 2005 o deend he Firs Amendmen righs o he junk ood indusry, igh effors o limi ood markeing o children and promoe indusry-proposed volunary guidelines as opposed o governmen oversigh o markeing o children.
26
 Even when hree governmen agencies came ogeher in 2011 o esablish an Ineragency Working Group on Food Marke-ed o Children ha released volunary guidelines or indusry sel-regulaion, he GMA lobbied heavily o keep he guide-lines rom being inalized.
27
 In 2011, he GMA’s vice presiden said ha “here’s no bigger prioriy or he ood secor” han scutling he children’s adverising volunary guidelines.
28
 Public healh organizaions, he Federal Trade Commission and he vas majoriy o he 29,000 public commens sup-pored he Working Group’s proposal, bu indusry pressure rumped public healh and Congress prevened he process rom being compleed.
29
GMA MembersGMA
California 2012(Prop. 37)Washington 2013(I-522)*
       
(in millions)
* In Washington, many GMA members donated to a GMA fund that contributed to the opposition.
SOURCE: Food & Water Watch analysis of Washington state Public Disclosure data and MapLight California election data.

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