Lawsuit Filed Against ‘No on I-522 Campaign’ Shot Down by Judge + Plaintiffs Fined $10,000
Supporters of the I-522 Food Label initiative recently experienced a major setback.
A Thurston County Superior Court Judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by supporters of the Food Label Initiative claiming the "No on I-522 Campaign" was improperly disclosing contributions from major food producers.
The group Moms for Labeling filed the suit, claiming the opposing campaign was not fully disclosing multi-million dollar donations from Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods and Nestle.
Because Moms for Labeling did not warn the opposing campaign of the suit in time, the judge ruled the group violated the SLAPP law. The SLAPP law (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) requires a 55-day period between giving notice and actually filing a lawsuit. The judge also said the suit was without merit.
In addition, Moms for Labeling was hit with a $10,000 fine plus the defendants' legal fees!
Opponents of I-522 called the lawsuit a political ploy designed to confuse the real issue: the cost of changing food labeling.
You've probably seen the ads on television. I-522 would increase food labeling requirements in Washington state, but supposedly because of the way it's written, many foods would "fall-through-the-cracks." Many pet foods would require additional labeling and be considered genetically engineered, but foods such as meat for human consumption would be exempted -- just to name a few.
The two big points the "No on I-522" campaign is making are a) state food labeling standards should not be more excessive than existing federal requirements, and b) the initiative would not be "free."
While supporters claim I-522 would not cost a dime to implement, an in-depth study by the Washington Research Council shows I-522 would increase the average grocery bill of a family of four by about $450 a year.
Most of that would be costs passed on to the consumer because of the estimated $3.3 million cost over six years from revising the food label requirements.
Even Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream has donated $4.6 million to help defeat the measure.
Former Director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture Dan Newhouse has appeared in several commercials for the No campaign, as has Pasco-area farmer Brenda Alford.