Who’s filling GMO coffers?

Donations listed for groups on both sides of the labeling measure

By Taylor W. Anderson / The Bulletin / @taylorwanderson

The groups for and against a ballot measure that would require genetically engineered foods to be labeled in Oregon are raising money in vastly different ways, according to a review of campaign finance disclosures.

The coalition registered against Measure 92 has reported raising more than $327,000 in its effort to persuade voters to spike the labeling measure. That money comes from just four cash donations from companies and six in-kind donations. On the other hand, Oregon GMO Right to Know, which favors the measure, touts its more than 2,400 donations from individuals. It has reported raising nearly $1.5 million in 2014 through July.

Right to Know press secretary Kevin Glenn said in an email the group has raised $1.8 million more in August that it hasn’t reported to the state yet.

“We’ve raised $3.25 million so far in this campaign, with over 2,400 individual Oregon donors,” Glenn said in an email. “The average donation has been about $67.”

The $1.5 million that’s been reported with the state so far includes nearly $1.2 million from companies and other groups.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which makes organic soap, has given $350,000 to the Right to Know campaign in cash and in-kind donations, records show. Mercola.com Health Resources also put $350,000 toward the effort through July.

The Organic Consumers Fund, a Minnesota-based organic advocacy group, has chipped in $200,000 in two separate donations. Clif Bar has given $100,000 of its own.

Glenn didn’t release information about the donations the group collected but hasn’t had to report yet under the state’s campaign finance deadlines.

It’s easier to track the four cash donations that have gone to the No on 92 Coalition through July: Grocery Manufacturers Association: $150,000; Monsanto Co.: $82,500; DuPont Pioneer: $58,150; Dow AgroSciences: $10,150.

Pat McCormick, spokesman for the No on 92 Coalition, also wouldn’t disclose whether those companies or others had contributed significantly in August. Its last report was July 30.

“I expect there will be substantial money spent on both sides of the campaign,” McCormick said.

With the election still more than two months away, it’s safe to say both sides will collect far more money for advertising, polling and other outreach.

A 2012 GMO labeling measure in California saw more than $45 million raised by groups that helped defeat the measure. Opponents to a measure last year in Washington spent more than $22 million to defeat another labeling measure.

The same corporations that donated to support and oppose those measures have donated early in Oregon in what probably will be one of the most hotly contested ballot measures this November.

A Citizens’ Initiative Review panel, made up of 20 residents who represent the state’s voter population, voted 11 against to 9 in favor of the measure a week ago, a sign this year’s effort in Oregon may be closely contested.

— Reporter: 406-589-4347,

tanderson@bendbulletin.com