Campaign Finance in GMO Labeling

     The American people have been advocating for the labeling of Genetically Engineered (GE) foods but their voices and efforts have continually been drowned out by the lobbying and political power of corporations like Monsanto and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

    This November, the people of Washington State vote on I-522, “An Act Relating to [the] disclosure of foods produced through genetic engineering,” as written in the Initiative Measure. Based on recent surveys, Washington is sure to pass I-522. However, after considering the failure of similar initiatives (like Proposition 37 in California) and the spending power of the corporations in opposition to it (such as Monsanto and BIO), certainty quickly fades.

    Polls continually show that the American people support the labeling of GE foods. One executed last spring by YouGov, an international research firm based in the UK, showed 82% of Americans in favor of labeling Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Another conducted in June by ABC News found that 93% Americans are pro GMO labeling. And section 1 of the Initiative Measure states that, “Polls consistently show that the vast majority of the public, typically more than ninety percent, wants to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering.”

    Brad Shannon of the Olympian reported on a study executed by GBA strategies that said 66% of Washington voters support I-522 while 22% oppose it. However, the Organic Consumers Fund’s website cited polls showing that over 80% of California residents supported labeling GMOs back in 2012 before the proposition failed.

     As Time magazine journalist Alexandra Sifferlin noted, Proposition 37, California’s version of I-522, quickly changed from a food issue to a political one, “with grassroots-based food purists supporting the measure and a well-funded agriculture and industry opposition campaigning against its passage.” Stacy Finz of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that opponents to Prop. 37 raised $45 million while the grass-root supporters raised just under $7 million.

    Large industries and corporations, like BIO, are typically able to spend more in campaigning and lobbying expenditures than grassroots-movements. Data collected by Open Secrets, a non-profit dedicated to tracking money in U.S. politics, reveals that the Agriculture Services & Products Industry (which includes corporations like Monsanto and BIO), spends over $650 million per year in lobbying expenditures, dating from 2007. BIO alone has spent over $5 million in 2013 (so far) and spent over $7 million in 2012.

    International Business Times journalist, Connor Adams, wrote about the effect of such lobbying expenditures. He reported on Monsanto’s success in “neutering” the GMO labeling law in Connecticut–the law was passed but cannot take effect until 4 other states, at least one boarding Connecticut, pass “similar laws.”

    While polls consistently show a broad support for GMO labeling, and that the majority of Washington voters are in support of I-522, the Initiative Measure is far from being passed. As previous propositions, such as prop. 37 in California and Connecticut, have shown, the corporations checkbook can be very powerful; and there is no lack of influential money in Washington at the moment. “Chemical and agribusiness powerhouse Monsanto has just invested $4.5 million to defeat the I-522 campaign,” CFS (Center for Food Safety) wrote in an article published September 10th, 2013. They also noted in an article published september 18th, 2013, that, “groups opposed to the labeling of genetically modified food products are outraising pro-consumer rights groups nearly four to one.”

    Supreme Court Justice Stevens warned of this in his dissenting opinion on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, “their [corporations] interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legiti­mate concerns about their role in the electoral process.” As corporations gain more and more power in the political arena they will continually put their interests in front of the peoples as they are currently doing with GMO labeling.


Chapel of St. Ignatius

Steven Holl is an American architect and watercolorist who currently resides in New York city, teaching at Columbia University and designing at his architecture firm, Steven Holl Architects. He is internationally recognized and has won many awards in the fields of architecture and modern art, including the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) prestigious Design Award for his work on Chapel of St. Ignatius.

“When we move through space with a twist and turn of the head, mysteries of gradually unfolding fields, of overlapping perspectives are changed with a range of light.” – Steven Holl

     Chapel of St. Ignatius is located in Seattle, WA at Seattle University, a Jesuit institution. It was designed from 1994-96 and constructed from 1996-97. The abstract of the building focuses on Holl’s most prominent architectural element: light. The building was designed to represent seven bottles of light emerging from a stone box, each corresponding to a different facet of Catholic worship. The volumes or bottles of light emerge from the roof, letting in light from all different angles during the day and projecting light all over Seattle University’s campus at night. Each volume or bottle has a different tint of stained glass, filling the chapel with a spectrum of soft colors. The exterior walls and design of the chapel are rectangular and flat, conveying the stone-box feel. However, the inside of the chapel is a full of apertures, curved and arched walls, walkways and windows, conveying the volumes/bottles of light feel. A maze for light to play in. Light is the buildings ever-changing soul. Chapel of St. Ignatius brings an essence of spirituality into existence and masterfully demonstrates how light affects perception.

     Chapel of St. Ignatius incorporates the two most defining elements of Holl’s career, light and texture. Light is so enlivening to Holl, partly because though a consistent element, its presence in a building is continually changing, altering how the building is perceived. Holl takes advantage of this change to add life and dynamic to his buildings.

     As Kenneth Frampton describes Holl’s use of light, “walls are consistently activated by indirect colored light, bouncing off concealed apertures, cut-out of the bounding walls” (Steven Holl, 7-10). Frampton describes Holl’s interest in texture/material as the study of how the intrinsic value of material imposes a discernible presence and rhythm on the volume or space it encloses.

Works cited for City Plaza article

Debt Crisis Timeline & Austerity:







Human Rights Violations in Greece:



EU-TU Deal:



Works cited for campaign finance articles

News Articles:

  • Sifferlin, Alexandra. “California Fails to Pass GM Foods Labeling Initiative.” Editorial.Time: Health and Family. Time, 7 Nov. 2012. Web. Sept. 2013.

Annotation (A): A Time’s magazine article published just two days after Proposition 37 failed to pass in California (2012). Ms. Sifferlin presented both sides of the the measure, interviewing both proponents and opposers and presenting lobbying statistics.

  • Finz, Stacy. “Prop. 37: Genetic Food Labels Defeated.” SFGate. Hearts Newspapers, 7 Nov. 2012. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: A San Francisco Gate article published just two days after Prop. 37 failed to pass in California (2012). Ms. Finz gives context, outlines the bill and briefly explains the GMO movement.

  • Langer, Gary. “Poll: Skepticism of Genetically Modified Foods.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 9 June 2013. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: Published last spring, this article presents that the majority of Americans are in favor of GMO labeling (ABC News poll showed 93%). I used the poll presented in this article in my straight news piece and some of my op-ed pieces.

  • Swanson, Emily. “GMO Poll Finds Huge Majority Say Foods Should Be Labeled.” The Huffington Post. HPMG News, 04 Mar. 2013. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: This article presents labeling, safety and environmental impact of GMO’s with the consensus that the average American is largely uneducated on the subject but is still interested in labeling GE products. Supported by a threefold poll (one for each aforementioned side) conducted by YouGov.

I used this article to begin to understand where the majority of Americans stood on the issue.

  • Bottemiller, Helena. “With Recent Victories, Movement to Label GMOs Gains Steam.”Food Safety News. Maller Clark, 27 June 2013. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: This article focuses on the success and failures of the GMO movement with the overall consensus that it is “gaining steam.” It draws in all the different state measures and house bills. It help me connect the movement on the west coast (I-522 and Prop. 37) to the rest of the US.

  • Sheets, Connor A. “‘Army of Lobbyists’ Led By Monsanto Helped Neuter GMO Labeling Law In Connecticut.” International Business Times. IBT Media Inc, 6 June 2013. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: This article uses the result of the Connecticut GMO labeling measure to highlight the lobbying power of corporations in the biotechnology industry. I quoted mr. Sheets in my straight news piece to help highlight the widespread effect of lobbying.

  • Shannon, Brad. “The Politics Blog.” The Olympian. Tacoma News Tribune, n.d. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: This is not a news piece but rather a political blog, focused on Washington, sponsored by the News Tribune. The specific post I read had to do with GMO labeling voter consensus polls performed in Washington. I used the data in my straight news piece and some of my opinion pieces.

  • Simon, Michele. “All Eyes on Washington State for GE Food Labeling.” The Huffington Post. HPMG News, 07 Aug. 2013. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: This article, published before Washington’s 2013 ballot, offered a cautiously optimistic view for the GMO labeling movement and its opportunity for success in Washington. It also considered corporate opposition in California. I never used this directly in any of my editorials. It supported all my arguments though, which was nice, although I did feel a little confirmation bias by the end of reading it.

  • Blumenthal, Paul. “McCutcheon v. FEC Could Endanger State Limits On Money In Politics.” The Huffington Post. HPMG News, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: This article focuses on how the McCutcheon v. FEC decision could affect state courts. I never used it in any of my editorials.

  • Sullivan, Sean. “Everything You Need to Know about McCutcheon vs FEC.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 08 Oct. 2013. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: As the title suggests, this article offers a quick rundown on McCutcheon v. FEC, including backstory, why its important, where it may lead and what’s being challenged. I read this when I was considering writing an opinion piece on the topic, but I never took that path.

  • Blumenthal, Paul. “Barack Obama: Citizens United Contributes To Extreme Politics In Washington.” The Huffington Post. HPMG News, 08 Oct. 2013. Web. Oct. 2013.

A:  Published amidst the recent government shutdown, this piece reports on Obama’s negative view of McCutcheon v. FEC and the courts decision on Citizens United v. FEC. I never used it in any of my editorials.

  • Shannon, Brad. “I-522 Could Raise Prices, Scientists Say.” The News Tribune. The News Tribune, 09 Oct. 2013. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: A panel of researchers, including economists and biologists of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, found that GMO labeling would raise costs, as Mr. Shannon reports in this article. I initially included this in my straight news piece but ended up cutting it. It presents a con of GMO labeling.

  • Peterson, Andrea. “Comcast Is Donating Heavily to Defeat the Mayor Who Is Bringing Gigabit Fiber to Seattle.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2013.

A: Drawing attention to the campaign contributions Comcast was giving to anti-McGinn PACs before the Washington 2013 ballot, this article summarizes Gigabit Squared, Comcast’s contributions and Murray’s position. I used this in one of my opinion pieces as an example of corporate-voter conflict

  • Vasilogambros, Matt, and Sarah Mimms. “Scalia Defends Citizens United Decision.”National Journal. Edgecast Networks, 18 July 2012. Web. Nov. 2013.

A: This article summarizes and quotes a discussion Justice Scalia had on television summer of last year, in which he defended the Citizens United v. FEC case decision.

  • Lifsher, Marc. “Poll Finds Prop. 37 Is Likely to Pass.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 27 Sept. 2012. Web. Nov. 2013.

           A: Published in the preceding months to California’s 2012 ballot, this article focuses on the support Prop. 37 was enjoying at the time, and the aid campaigns the Agro business was running. This source wonderfully supports my hypothesis that Prop. 37 failed due to Agro lobbying expenditures, but I came across it late and never ended up using it in any of my pieces.


  • Contributors, Ballotpedia. “Washington Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Measure, Initiative 522.” Ballotpedia. State of Washington, Nov. 2013. Web. Nov. 2013.

A: Ballotpedia provides information on ballot measures ranging from the context and history of the issue on the ballot to the different sides/opinions. This source led me to extremely useful state polls on I-522, which I used in some of my opinion pieces, and gathered information from different campaign disclosure sites, which I also used in my opinion pieces.

  • Wikipedia contributors. “JPMorgan Chase.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Nov. 2013. Web. Nov. 2013.

A: JPMorgan Chase, Wikipedia offers basic information on every major subject of interest related to the aforementioned bank. I quickly read through this source when I was writing my post ballot op-ed. I never directly used it.

Government Related:

  • “Election Results. November 5, 2013 General.” Office of the Secretary of State. Washington State, Nov. 2013. Web. Nov. 2013.

A: Showed all the election results for Washington’s 2013 ballot. I used it to find out the election results.

  • Golan, Elise, Fred Kuchler, Lorraine Mitchell, Catherine Greene, and Amber Jessup.Economics of Food Labeling. Rep. United States Department of Agriculture, Jan. 2001. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2013.

A: This report studies five examples of government food labeling issues in the US (3 of which were enforced and 2 of which were proposed) and the economic theory behind them. I briefly read over this source when I was trying to find information on the economic impact of nutrition labeling requirements of the 90’s. I never directly used any information from it.

  • Peha, Joseph. “Candidate Interviews for the 2013 General!” 36th District Democrats. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: All the oral arguments for/against all the measures on Washingtons ballot (along with Seattle legislature oral campaign presentations–which I paid no attention to). I came across this source when I was looking into arguments against I-522. I used some of the arguments presented in one of my opinion pieces, but I later edited them out.

  • “Federal Election Commission Home Page.” Federal Election Commission. United States, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

    • “Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal.” Federal Election Commission. United States, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: Straight to the source for campaigning laws and regulations in the US along with the any legally required disclosures.

A: Full text of Bill Request for Initiative Measure I-522. I scanned over this source to help understand what I-522 was proposing.

  • “Shinning a Light on Washington Politics since 1972.” Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. Washington State, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: WSPDC has five sections, one of which is a campaign finance database for Washington. This site was interesting to browse through but I never ended up directly using any of my findings.


  • “A Collaborative Initiative Working to Ensure the Sustained Availability of Non-GMO Options.” The NonGMO Project RSS. Ed. Megan Westgate. Non-GMO Project, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: The NonGMO Project is a not for profit that offers third party GMO labeling and works to protect non-GMO food options in North America. I used this source to help understand the basics of pro GMO labeling arguments

  • “ Money in Politics — See Who’s Giving & Who’s Getting.” Opensecrets RSS. Center of Responsive Politics, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

    • “Food Industry.” Opensecrets RSS. Center of Responsive Politics, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

    • “Biotechnology Industry Organization.” Opensecrets RSS. Center of Responsive Politics, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

    • “Monsanto Co.” Opensecrets RSS. Center of Responsive Politics, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

    • “Agricultural Services & Products.” Opensecrets RSS. Center of Responsive Politics, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

    • “Monsanto Co.” Open Secrets. Center of Responsive Politics, n.d. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: Open Secrets is a non-partisan, not for profit dedicated, to tracking money in US politics. I used this source to find lobbying expenditure statistics on companies like BIO and monsanto and industries such as the Agro Services & Products Industry.

  • “Move to Amend.” We the People, Not We the Corporations. Move to Amend, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

    • “Move to Amend: Get Involved.” Get Involved. Move to Amend, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: A not-for-profit working to “take back our democracy [from effect of corporate campaign finance in the US].” Offers volunteer opportunities all over the US, however, none in King County.

  • “Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation.” Public Citizen Home Page. Public Citizen Inc., n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

    • “Clean Up Washington.” Clean Up Washington – Home Page. Public Citizen Inc., n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: Public Citizen is a not-for-profit in the US that does not work in coordination with any political parties or candidates. Its main focus is to protect and perpetuate the voice/needs of the citizen in the face of the government and big corporations. This was one of this first sources I came across and lead me to other sources such as Move to Amend. I did not directly use this source in any of my work.

  • “The Campaign Finance Institute — Home Page.” The Campaign Finance Institute. CFI, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

    • “Federal Law.” Campaign Finance Institute. CFI, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: CFI analyzes how candidates fundraise/spend money and gathers such information. I never directly used this source.

  • “U.S. Polls on GE Food Labeling.” Online Posting. Center for Food Safety. Center for Food Safety, n.d. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: Gathered information on the GE labeling movement including many nationwide polls and information on which states have GE related measure/HB. This was a very helpful source and I used information from it in nearly all of my work.

Research Papers:

  • Curtis, Gregory. The Financial Crisis and the Collapse of Ethical Behavior. GreyCourt. Grey Court, 2008. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2013.

A: Mr. Curtis points to the foolish (too much leverage, poor risk control, ignorance of bubble) behavior that led up to Lehman’s crash of 2007 as a product of knowingly unethical acts of the financial industry. I quoted a few sentences from the interlude in one of my op-ed’s.

  • Moorman, Christine, Rosellina Ferraro, and Joel Huber. Firm Responses to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. Rep. Duke University, 28 Oct. 2011. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: This report looks into how firms reacted to the labeling requirements of the 90’s (how they adjusted taste, ingredients, etc.) but not how prices were affected, which was what I was interested, so I never ended up using it.

  • Wilkening, Virginia, and Patricia Dexter. Labelling Foods to Improve Nutrition in the United States. Rep. Agriculture Consumer Protection, 1994. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: This paper takes a pro-labeling stance on considering the labeling requirements of the 90’s. It briefly goes over a cost-benefit analysis of the requirements in the abstract, but does not go into detail in the body. I did not use this source in any of my work.

  • Malbin, Michael J, Peter Brusoe, Brendan Galvin. “Small Donors, Big Democracy.” Election Law Journal. 1 Nov. 2012. Web.

A: A research paper on encouraging small donations, especially in minorities and lower income classes, by matching campaign donations. This piece looks at how matching donations worked in New York, how it could readily work in other states and applies the idea to the broader concept of campaign finance.

Other Helpful Sources:

  • Byrne, David. Speech. Proposal for a Regulation on GM Food and Feed. Brussels. 11 Sept. 2001. Europa. European Parliament. Web. Oct. 2013.

A: A speech directed to the European Union proposing GM regulations in Europe, this source led me to GMO labeling related statistics in Europe which I initially used in some of my opinion pieces but ended up cutting in later revisions. It also helped me understand how GMO labeling was being handled in Europe.

  • Yandle, Anita. Telephone interview. 27 Oct. 2013.

A: A 15 minute interview via telephone. I quoted Ms. Yandle in two of my op-eds.

  • “What Is Biotechnology?” BIO. Biotechnology Industry Organization, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

    • “Why California Needs SB 598.” BIO. Biotechnology Industry Organization, 24 Sept. 2013. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: BIO is the largest firm of the biotechnology industry. Their website offers explanations of biotechnology and why it is important. I looked into them because they were one of the big players in the lobbying scene against GMO labeling. Their website also offers arguments against GMO restrictions.

  • “Support the California GMO Labeling Ballot Initiative.” Organic Consumers Fund. Organic Consumer Association, n.d. Web. Sept. 2013.

A: The Organic Consumer Fund (OCF) is an alliance to the Organic Consumer Association (OCA). OCF focuses on legislation related to genetic engineering/organic products and was a big proponent of Proposition 37 in California. There website offers info and arguments on Prop. 37.