Meet the Corporate Front Groups Fighting to Make Sure You Can't Know What's in Your Food
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CACFLP’s website does list some powerhouse coalition members, however, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), whose members also include Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta as well as many large food processors and supermarket chains, and the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) , whose members include Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta. Both groups are based in Washington DC. As of March, the GMA and the CBI had contributed a combined $625,000 to the CACFLP – presumably to “protect” consumers from GMO labeling. Both groups have publicly opposed this initiative.
Monsanto recently made the following statement in support of CACFLP:
Monsanto is part of a growing coalition of California farmers, food producers, grocers, retailers, and others which has been formed to oppose the California measure. As a member of both GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association) and BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization), we support the organizations' involvement in the California campaign to oppose the costly and extreme measure.
Kathy Fairbanks: Voice of the people?
Kathy Fairbanks wants consumers to believe she’s on their side when she warns them that requiring labels on GMO foods will raise their grocery bills. Yet since when has she fought for the little guy? A glance at her resume reveals a long list of pro-corporate gigs, including some involving illegal donations and questionable practices.
In 2010, Fairbanks worked for the Californians for Fair Auto Insurance Rates - C-FAIR - an insurance industry front group set up by billionaire Mercury Insurance executive George Joseph. C-FAIR launched a California ballot initiative, Prop 17, to raise rates on consumers who had been without coverage - despite a voter-approved law banning the practice. Fairbanks' work on the 2010 ballot initiative was investigated in a San Francisco Bay Guardian piece called "Buying Power: How PG&E and Mercury Insurance Are Spending Millions to Try to Trick Californians into Voting for Corporate Interests," and a San Diego Union Tribune article, "Insurer Veils Its Funding of Measure: Literature for Prop. 17 Omits Mercury's Millions."
During the initiative battle, the state Department of Insurance accused Mercury of illegal practices, including unfairly denying coverage and charging discriminatory rates to motorists who were not at fault in accidents, were members of the armed forces or worked in certain professions. It found Mercury had a "lengthy history of serious misconduct" and an attitude of "contempt toward and/or abuse of its customers, the [insurance] commissioner, its competition and the Superior Court." Mercury paid $300,000 to settle the allegations.
Fairbanks also worked on the wrong side of consumers on the following pro-big business campaigns:
- In 2008: spokesperson for the opposition to Prop 7, a California ballot measure to require half the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025.
- In 2006: helped defeat Proposition 82 which would have provided credentialed teachers to 150,000 4-year-olds living in the city, funded through tax increases on individuals earning more than $400,000 a year, and on couples making more than $800,000 a year.
- In 2005: spokesperson for Steve Poizner's Campaign for State Insurance Commissioner , whose funding was controlled by Poizner, a wealthy Silicon Valley Republican. The fund was required to return $1.75 million in illegal donations made by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his campaign committee.
Fairbanks also worked for the California Chamber of Commerce, in 1999, when the Chamber was spending $2.4 million per legislative session on lobbying. The list of bills she urged Gov. Davis to veto included a bill that would have increased workers compensation benefits, and one that would have allowed employees to use up to half of their annual sick leave to stay home and care for sick family members. She also opposed limiting the expansion of Big Box stores and barring businesses from using revenues from state contracts for anti-union activities.