The US debate over the labelling of genetically modified organisms took a new turn yesterday (17 September) when a campaign group filed a lawsuit alleging the Grocery Manufacturers Association is illegally concealing the identity of campaign donas in its drive to block the introduction of compulsory GMO labelling in Washington State.

Moms for labelling, a non-profit organisation, claimed that the GMA was being used to “launder” money by making donations to an anti-GMO labelling advertising campaign on behalf of the food industry giants that it represents. The GMA has been the chief donor funding the “No on Initiative 552” advertising campaign.

“The scheme conceals the true finders of the No on 552 Campaign. Campaign advertisements provide false information about the donors and there is nowhere that voters can go to learn the actual contributors to the campaign,” the filing claims.

Voters in Washington state will be balloted over whether or not to impose mandatory labelling of GMOs in food products in November.

A similar proposition was narrowly defeated in California, after pro-GMO lobbyists spent a reported US$45m to block the legislation. Earlier in the year, Connecticut passed a compromise deal that would see legislation enacted if it was supported by four other states.

The GMO was not immediately available for comment.