Pepsi, Coke, Nestle top multi-million-dollar campaign against I-522

Pepsico, Coca-Cola and NestleUSA have each put up more than $1 million to defeat Washington’s Initiative 522, money  the food industry giants channeled through a “Defense of Brands Strategic Account,” set up by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) so companies would leave no footprints.

The initiative, which has drawn the ire of the food industry and agribusiness, would require the labeling of genetically modified food products, seeds and seed stocks sold on the shelves of Washington stores.

In yielding to a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, GMA agreed to list donors to what has become a $17.1 million campaign to defeat I-522.

The list is a who’s-who of America’s powerful food and agribusiness firms.  It was posted late Friday on the balky website of the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Coca-Cola and Pepsico have been here before.  The American Beverage Association, in 2010, spent $16.9 million on a TV blitz that rolled back a small soda pop-junk food tax enacted by the Washington Legislature in an effort to ease cuts in money to the state’s schools and colleges.

The “No on 522″ donations include:

– Soft drink manufacturers:  Pepsico is tops with $1.6 million, just as it was the lead contributor in the 2012 campaign that defeated Prop. 37, a similar measure on the California ballot.  Coca-Cola has given $1.047 million to No on 522.

– “Big Chocolate:”  NestleUSA has given $1.052 million through the Grocery Manufacturers Association.  The Hershey Company has donated $248,305 that’s gone to No on 522.

– The cereal industry:  General Mills tops out with $598,819 that has found its way into No on 522 coffers, followed by Kellogg Co. with donations of $221,852 through the “Defense of Brands Strategic Account” fund set up by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

– Bread and Butter:  Bimbo Bakeries — its brands include Orowheat, Sara Lee and Ball Park buns — has given $94,093, while butter maker Land O’ Lakes has donated $99,803.

– Agribusiness:  Such firms as Monsanto ($4 million) have given separately to the record-setting No on 522 campaign.  But Cargill & Co. put in $98,601 through the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and Conagra — whose products include Hunt’s Tomatoes, Banquet foods and David seeds — has put up $285, 281 to defeat the Washington labeling initiative.

– Canned foods:  Del Monte put in $86,576 through the “Defense of Brand” fund, and Campbell Soup gave $265,140.  Campbell donated $500,000 directly to the anti-Prop. 37 campaign in California last year.