by Dr. Joseph Mercola
The Grocery Manufacturer's Association (GMA) was the
brazen trade and lobbying group for junk food makers
and biotech and GMO seeds companies
In recent years, Nestlé, Kraft, Mars, Campbell Soup
Co. and others have quit GMA, as it was increasingly
perceived as being out of touch with consumer
GMA was influential in defeating California's GMO-labeling
Proposition 37 in 2012 and Washington state's GMO-labeling
bill, I-522. Its initiatives resulted in a money
The GMA has also tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to
preempt state GMO labeling laws
As of 2020, the GMA will become the Consumer Brands
Association with a different, downscaled agenda
Since 2012, the millions who want transparency in their food
products have been fighting the Grocery Manufacturer's Association
of America (GMA), the brazen trade and lobbying group for
Representing major processed food giants like,
...and biotech and GMO
seed companies like,
...the GMA has probably
done more to harm the nation's collective health than any other
single lobbying group.
Now, there is good news about this seemingly indefatigable junk food
It's shutting down...
GMA has announced a "rebranding,"
replete with new name, agenda, goals and personnel.
These changes amount to
the end of GMA as we know it.
We planted the seeds against this behemoth almost eight years ago,
and patiently waited like old-fashioned farmers, for results to
All of you who boycotted
the products owned by GMA members, and joined in the many
initiatives in which we were pitted against the GMA, are to be
congratulated for this wonderful triumph.
New Name and
The GMA will be called the Consumer Brands Association (CBA),
starting in 2020. 2
Its four new goals 3 are:
uniform regulation including recycling rules
Building trust in
consumer packaged goods
These goals are a far cry
from the aggressive, anti-transparency, consumer-be-damned attitudes
that characterized the GMA. The changes are also marked by changes
The new CEO of CBA, Geoff Freeman, has no food industry
background and most recently worked with the American Gaming
Gone is the former GMA
CEO Pamela Bailey, who worked tirelessly against GMO labeling
or, as the GMA puts it, sought
"a uniform national
standard for required disclosure of food and beverage
ingredients from biotechnology." 5
Also gone is former GMA
chairman Chris Policinski 6 (who also served as the CEO of
Land O'Lakes) 7 and three other GMA leaders. 8
The exodus of officers
from the GMA followed the departure of major members.
Thanks to dedicated food activists, in recent years anchor members
Nestlé, Kraft, Mars,
Campbell Soup Co. Hershey, Unilever, Tyson Foods, Dean Foods,
DowDuPont, Cargill, 9 Kraft Heinz and Hershey, 10
...all pulled out.
Keurig Dr Pepper
On the record, some of the ex-members said they left because the GMA
no longer represented them 13 or GMA had become too
But off the record,
insiders say ex-members believed the GMA did not evolve with
consumer sentiments and put members in opposition to their own
customers who wanted more accountability and transparency. 15
The defections likely cut
GMA finances in half, according to one insider. 16
Trail of Shame
Began in 2012
GMA's anti-consumer, anti-transparency activities date back to at
least 2012, when it was influential in defeating
California's Proposition 37, which would have required labeling of GMO
ingredients and prohibited such products being deemed "natural."
Despite the support of Prop. 37 from food producing companies and
farming interests, the tremendous money from the junk food industry
tipped the scales.
In a triumphant statement
the GMA wrote: 18
"GMA and its member
companies are pleased that California voters have rejected
Proposition 37 was a deeply flawed measure that
would have resulted in higher food costs, frivolous lawsuits,
and increased state bureaucracies. This is a big win for
California consumers, taxpayers, businesses and farmers.
Foods and beverages that contain genetically engineered
ingredients have been exhaustively studied and all of the
leading scientific and regulatory bodies, including the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA), US Department of
Agriculture, the World Health Organization and the American
Medical Association, have concluded that these products are safe
and are not materially different than their traditional
Donors who secured the
defeat of Prop. 37 included 40 the nation's Big Food manufacturers
as well as pesticides/GMO seeds companies like,
Since the defeat, some of
the food makers have left GMA20 but the anti-Prop 37 pesticide/GMO
seed companies have only strengthened their organizations' through
cagey mergers and aggressive bids for worldwide dominance. 21
When consumers became aware of the names of food companies whose
donations helped defeat California's Prop 37 - companies that didn't
think consumers had the right to know if they were eating GMOs - a
massive backlash and consumer boycotts ensued.
To avoid a repeat of angry consumers during the I-522 ballot
campaign to label GMOs in Washington State the following year, GMA
came up with an ingenious scheme for hiding the identities of its
GMA created a "brand defense" account that paid for the anti I-522
campaign's communications without disclosing where the money came
from, effectively hiding the identity of the donors.
There was just one problem with this maneuver. It's illegal. GMA was
sued by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who accused
them of intentional money laundering and violating state campaign
In a 2013 article,
Sustainable Pulse reported: 22
"Ferguson filed suit
in Thurston County Superior Court asking for a temporary
restraining order and for the GMA to immediately comply with
state disclosure laws, indicating who contributed, how much they
contributed, and how the money was spent to oppose I 522.
He is also requesting
civil penalties and cost of investigation and trial, including
reasonable attorneys fees."
Guilty of Money Laundering
Thanks to Ferguson's lawsuit, GMA was forced to establish a
political committee called Grocery Manufacturers Association
Against I-522 and release the list of donors that it had tried
to hide. 23
The list of over 30 donors included the "usual suspects" like,
Together, they donated
millions of dollars to fight GMO disclosure.
What an irony that the
companies who wanted to hide GMOs in their products could no longer
hide their own identities.
In 2016, GMA was found guilty of money laundering and ordered to pay
$18 million in penalties - thought to be the largest penalty levied
for a campaign-related violation in the U.S.
In her ruling, Thurston
County Superior Court Judge Anne Hirsch wrote: 24
"The totality of the
record establishes under a preponderance of evidence, as well as
the higher clear, cogent and convincing standard, that the GMA
intentionally violated Washington state public campaign finance
Because the penalty
included treble damages, the GMA appealed it, and a three-judge
panel subsequently sent it back to Hirsch for review. 25
When both the state trial
court and appellate court upheld the review, the National
Association of Manufacturers (NAM) picked up the fight on behalf of
GMA, alleging that Hirsch's ruling on which she based the penalty
was in error. 26
Compelling members of certain organizations to disclose their
memberships is a violation of the First Amendment, NAM alleges, and
allowing a ruling like Hirsch's to stand,
"can chill public
policy advocacy and undermine a robust debate on important
issues," in the future.
Therefore, NAM is asking
that her entire judgment be reversed.
pseudonymous political speech is an important part of the
American tradition," NAM claims. 27
The ramifications of this
case for consumers are enormous:
If the appeal wins,
it very well may be impossible in the future to find out who or
what is behind any Big Industry group like GMA.
While this case continues
to play out, the point is the GMA is already paying for its
transgressions by having to restructure into its new, weakened form.
Suing States and Seeking Preemption
The GMA's pro-GMO, anti-transparency efforts were not restricted to
defeating ballot measures.
Washington state over the money laundering charges and getting their
penalties reduced, the GMA sought a preliminary injunction to
prevent Vermont from implementing the labeling law Act 120.
The law was targeted because it would take effect regardless of
action from other states. 28 For years, the GMA strenuously tried to
preempt state laws like Vermont's with GMO-friendly federal
Here is how Scholarship
Law Berkeley described the GMA's efforts. 29
"With the possibility
of a federal labeling law for GMOs, many food manufacturers,
such as the Grocery Manufacturer's Association (GMA), spent time
and effort pushing for a law that would create more uniformity.
GMA President and CEO Pamela Bailey highlighted that a
consumer uncertainty created by a state-by-state patchwork
of labeling laws, advance food safety, inform consumers and
provide consistency in labeling.'
She explained that,
alternative - a patchwork of state and local food laws
across the country with different labeling mandates and
requirements - will create confusion, cause significant new
costs for Americans, and lead to critical problems for our
nation's grocery supply chain'."
Of course, Big Food
always cites the risk of "confusing" the consumer when it tries to
cover up its ingredients.
Good News for
All Who Want Healthy Food
The defeat of GMA is likely to improve the health of the whole
Americans should never be
denied the knowledge of GMOs, sugars and other harmful ingredients
lurking in their food.
Today's consumers want to
exercise their right to make conscious and conscientious food
choices, and in order to do that, food companies must label their
foods honestly and transparently.
The now defunct GMA failed because it refused to keep up with the
times and listen to consumer wants and needs. In a tweet, Gary
Ruskin, co-director of U.S.
Right To Know,
commented on the GMA's "rebranding" into the watered-down Consumer
Brands Association: 30
"A big victory for
consumers, public health and the food movement: the
ultra-processed junk food industry's trade association is so
tarnished and discredited that today it is changing its name and
focus. Good riddance."
Companies Gain Power by Taking Over the Government
There is no doubt in my mind that GMOs and the toxic chemicals used
along with them pose a serious threat to the environment and our
health, yet government agencies turn a blind eye and refuse to act -
and the reason is very clear:
They are furthering
the interests of the biotech giants.
It is well known that
there is a revolving door between government agencies and biotech
companies like Monsanto-now-Bayer.
Consider the hypocrisy of
On paper, the U.S.
may have the strictest food safety laws in the world governing
new food additives, but this agency has repeatedly allowed GMOs
and their accompanying pesticides and herbicides like Roundup to
evade these laws.
In fact, the only legal
basis for allowing GE foods to be marketed in the U.S. is the FDA's
claim that these foods are inherently safe, a claim which is
Documents released as a
result of a lawsuit against the FDA reveal that the agency's own
scientists warned their superiors about the detrimental risks of GE
But their warnings fell
on deaf ears...
The influence of the biotech giants is not limited to the U.S.
June 2017 article, GMWatch revealed that 26 of the 34 members of the
National Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology of
Argentina (CONABIA) are either employed by chemical technology
companies or have major conflicts of interest.
You may be aware that Argentina is one of the countries where
single-crop fields of GE cotton, corn and soy dominate the
Argentina is also a
country facing severe environmental destruction. Argentines are
plagued with health issues, including degenerative diseases and
It would appear that the
rapid expansion of GE crops and the subsequent decline in national
health indicators are intrinsically linked.
Don't Be Duped by
Biotech companies' outrageous attempts to push for their corporate
interests extend far beyond the halls of government.
In a further effort to
hoodwink the public, Monsanto/Bayer and their cohorts have been
caught zealously spoon-feeding scientists, academics and journalists
with questionable studies that depict them in a positive light.
By hiring "third-party experts," biotech companies are able to take
information of dubious validity and present it as independent and
It's a shameful practice
that is far more common than anyone would like to think. One
notorious example of this is Henry Miller, who was thoroughly
ousted as a Monsanto shill during the 2012 Proposition 37 GMO
labeling campaign in California.
Miller, falsely posing as a Stanford professor, promoted GE foods
during this campaign.
In 2015, he published a
paper in Forbes Magazine attacking the findings of the International
Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health
Organization, after it classified glyphosate as a probable human
After it was revealed
that Miller's work was in fact ghostwritten by Monsanto,
Forbes not only fired him, but also removed all of his work from its
Industry front groups also abound.
The Genetic Literacy
Project and the American Council on Science and Health were both
Monsanto-funded before Bayer bought Monsanto.
Whether that funding
continues under Bayer is left to be seen, but other "trusted"
sources were also caught taking Monsanto money.
For example, WebMD, a
website that is often presented as a trustworthy source of
"independent and objective" health information, was exposed acting
as a lackey for Monsanto by using its influence to promote
corporate-backed health strategies and products, displaying
advertisements and advertorials on Big Biotechs' behalf, furthering
the biotech industry's agenda - all for the sake of profit.
But even with underhanded tactics to peddle their toxic products,
biotechs are now unable to hide the truth:
will in no way, shape or form make the world a better place.
It will not solve
It will not increase
And it most certainly
will not do any good for your health - and may in fact prove to
Better Time to Act Than NOW - Here's What to Do
So now the question is:
Will you continue
supporting the corrupt, toxic and unsustainable food system that
Big Biotech, Monsanto/Bayer and their industry shills and
profit-hungry lackeys have painstakingly crafted?
It is largely up to all
of us, as consumers, to loosen and break their tight hold on our
The good news is that the
tide has turned.
As consumers worldwide become increasingly aware of the problems
linked to GE crops and the toxic chemicals, herbicides and
pesticides used on them, more and more people are proactively
refusing to eat these foods.
There's also strong
growth in the global organic and grass fed sectors. This just proves
one thing: We can make a difference if we steadily work toward the
One of the best things you can do is to buy your foods from a local
farmer who runs a small business and uses diverse methods that
promote regenerative agriculture.
You can also join a community
supported agriculture (CSA) program, where you can buy a "share"
of the vegetables produced by the farm, so you get a regular supply
of fresh food.
I believe that joining a
CSA is a powerful investment not only in your own health, but in
that of your local community and economy as well.
In addition, you should also adopt preventive strategies that can
help reduce the toxic chemical pollution that assaults your body.
I recommend visiting
these trustworthy sites for non-GMO food resources in your country:
Monsanto, Bayer and their allies want you to think that they control
everything, but they do not.
It's you, the masses, who
hold the power in your hands. Let's all work together to topple the
biotech industry's house of cards. Remember - it all starts with
shopping smart and making the best food purchases for you and your
Grocer Sept 26, 2019
2, 3, 10, 11 CNBC
Sept 25 2019
4, 14 Associations
Now May 2, 2019
online Sept 12, 2018
Processing Jan 29, 2018
May 15, 2018
8, 13, 15, 16 Quartz
Marxh 5, 2018
9, 20 Fence
Post Feb 16, 2018
Grocery Business Jun. 26, 2018
17, 19 Ballotpedia
online Nov. 7, 2012
Pulse Oct 18 2013
Institute Oct 19th, 2013
Pi Nov 2 2016
Press Sept 5, 2018
Association of Manufacturers September 6, 2019
Brief, NAM, September 6, 2019
Navigator April 27, 2015
Berkeley Feb 11, 2018