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Grocery Manufacturers Spend to Defeat Food Label Efforts

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Although the battles over labeling genetically modified foods are hardly new, the current spending by the Grocery Manufacturers Association to defeat the federal labeling drive is unprecedented.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, representing more than 300 food and beverage entities, reported its largest spending increase in federal lobbying from the previous quarter. The trade association, which lists Coca-Cola (KO), General Mills (GIS), Campbell Soup (CPB) and Hillshire Brands (HSH) among its members, spent about $7.4 million from July 1 through Sept. 30 on lobbying efforts in Washington.

That amount was an increase from the second quarter of more than $6.2 million. For the first three quarters of 2012, the Grocery Manufacturers Association spent about $2.6 million. In toto, there has been $9.3 million expended this year. That is an increase of over 500% for the quarter, more than twice the next biggest increase for a group seeking to influence Congress and others in the nation's capital.

What is bringing the torrents of cash to Washington is the labeling of genetically modified food issue. The impact of genetically modified foods on health and the environment, including pesticides resistance, is also a major item for the industry. So is the role of government regulators. The impact of genetically modified crops for farmers and its role in feeding the growing population of the world are also vital.

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Another Washington, the state, was also critical due to a food labeling measure.

For that campaign, the Grocery Manufacturers Association raised over $11 million. To defeat a similar labeling effort in California a year ago required about $44 million. The Grocery Manufacturers Association contends that any genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling would end up costing the consumer hundreds of dollars a year in higher costs at the supermarket.

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