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Monsanto Grows Controversy on Genetically Modified Food

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Like a bumper crop after beneficial rains, spending by Monsanto (MON), DuPont (DD)Dow Chemical  DOW, Bayer CropScience and others have soared in food labeling lobbying efforts at the federal and the state level.

Monsanto, the world's largest producer of genetically modified seeds, had the sixth-biggest increase of any advocacy group active in the nation's capital, expending $1.4 million in the second quarter and $2.4 million in the third quarter of this year.

The Missouri-based company was very active on the Farmer Assurance Provision, which shielded seed companies from lawsuits and was called the "Monsanto Protection Act" by its critics. Overall, spending increased by almost 75% with $4.7 million in outlays through the first three quarters of 2012.

DuPont and Dow Chemical are also major players in the marketplace for bioengineered crop seeds.

Food labeling measures could have a tremendous impact on the bottom line of these companies as well as on shoppers, the industries contend. Bills for families would increase by hundreds of dollars annually. Making the labels costs the companies money and that cost will be passed along to consumers.That was the case made for defeating a recent measure in Washington state.

Over $20 million was spent by a consortium of food, agriculture and chemical companies to push back at attempt at requiring food labeling in that state.

Monsanto kicked in over $5 million. About $3.6 million was expended by DuPont Pioneer, the seed of unit of the chemical giant. Dow Chemical chipped in another $621,000. Monsanto and DuPont were the leading donors in a $46 million drive last year to defeat an effort to require labeling in California.

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