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Grocery group that fought GMO labeling gets hit with $18 million fine

No-GMO food label
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
GMO food label.

Washington state officials are calling it the largest campaign-finance penalty in U.S. history.

A Thurston County Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered the Grocery Manufacturers Association to pay an $18 million fine for deliberately hiding its donors.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association took in millions in contributions in its 2013 campaign against a proposal to label genetically modified foods in Washington state.

Major donors included household names like Pepsico, Nestle, Coca Cola and General Mills.

Read the judge's ruling

The penalty is by far the largest in the history of Washington's Public Disclosure Commission, but it's $4 million less than opponents spent to block the GMO initiative. The "No on 522" campaign spent about $22 million, with about half of the total coming from the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Opponents outspent supporters of genetic labeling three to one.

It's the most expensive initiative campaign in Washington history,  and the state's voters rejected the measure by a narrow margin, 51 percent to 49 percent.

In a statement, the Grocery Manufacturers Association said it intends to vigorously pursue legal options “to correct this injustice.”

Year started with KUOW: 2009