Grocery Manufacturers Association

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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), previously the Grocery Manufacturers of America, based in Washington, D.C., is the world's largest trade association for corporations making food, beverage, and consumer products. Representing such companies as Campbell Soup Company, Kraft Foods, and Pepsi, it channels political contributions, lobbies and engages in public relations on behalf of its member corporations.[1][2] In 2007, the Food Products Association (FPA), which focuses on science, nutrition labeling, and food safety, merged with GMA.[3]

GMA's primary wing -- its 501(c)(6) trade association -- took in nearly $41.4 million in total revenue in 2013 (its most recently available filing), spent over $41.4 million in total expenses, and had over $31 million in net assets available as of the end of that year.[4] Its 501(c)(3), "GMA Science and Education Foundation," had $588,626 in total revenue, $337,891 in total expenses, and $1,477,901 in net assets for the same time period.[5]

GMA's PAC made $222,245 in political contributions at the federal level in 2014 -- 63 percent to Republicans and 37 percent to Democrats -- according to the Center for Responsive Politics.[6] The top recipient of GMA political contributions from 1989 through the second quarter of 2014 was Democratic Senator Ron Kind of Wisconsin, according to the Sunlight Foundation.[7] GMA made $11,073,608 in political contributions at the state level in 2014, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.[8] It has spent $41,052,904 in lobbying at the federal level 1989 through the second quarter of 2014, according to the Sunlight Foundation.[7] It spent $4,620,347 lobbying at the federal level[9] and had eight lobbyists active in three states in 2014.[10]

The U.S. Right to Know Foundation, which advocates for labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs), tracks key facts and controversies regarding GMA here.

Fighting to Keep Americans Eating GMOs without Knowing it

GMA sued Maui after citizens of the Hawai'i county voted to ban GMO crops on the island in November 2014. GMA also sued the state of Vermont over its law requiring GMO labels in 2014.[11] (In the latter suit, a U.S. District Court judge ruled against GMA and other industry groups in declining to block the law in April 2015,[12] and as of May 2015 GMA and other plaintiffs were appealing the decision.)[13]

GMA has also repeatedly lobbied Koch-backed Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas to introduce what it calls "The Safe & Accurate Food Labeling Act"[14] and proponents of GMO labeling call the "Deny Americans the Right to Know Act" or DARK Act.[15]

In its 2013 tax filing, GMA reported paying $11,000,000 to No on I-522 in Washington State for "lobbying - WA ballot."[4] I-522 was a 2013 ballot referendum that would have required GMO foods to be labeled; it did not pass.[16]

GMA also reported paying $10,000 in 2013 to Oregonians for Food and Shelter (OFS),[4] a GMO industry trade group founded to "do battle with activists seeking an initiative to ban the aerial application of forest herbicides"[17] that successfully pushed the Oregon legislature to enact a state override of local GMO bans in Oregon in 2014 (via a bill that then became an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "model" bill).[18] OFS also successfully pushed to pass ALEC's "Right to Farm Act" in the state more than 20 years earlier.[19] (The pesticide trade group CropLife America also funded OFS in 2009.)[20]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.

Food Guide Pyramid

The federal government introduced its revision of the food pyramid, the pictorial representation of its dietary guidelines reportedly recognized by 80% of the population,[21] in April 2005. Called "MyPyramid," it features triangular colored segments alongside a stick figure climbing stairs.[22]

Two days after its release, the Grocery Manufacturers Association announced plans to promote the new pyramid to students, teachers and families. The group also took credit for the pyramid's high recognition rate, saying it was "due, in part, to the efforts of the food and beverage industry."[23]

In September 2005, on the same day that the the USDA unveiled the game-filled "MyPyramid for Kids," GMA introduced a new curriculum designed to teach children about the special version of MyPyramid designed just for them in a partnership with Weekly Reader. According to GMA, "The new educational materials will be used by approximately 58,000 educators who reach more than four million students in grades 4-6." They also pledged to translate materials into Spanish and distribute materials for free to schools with high-Hispanic populations.[24]

School Nutrition Policy

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has opposed virtually every state bill across the nation that would restrict the sale of junk food or soda in schools. Michele Simon, in her book Appetite for Profit, found in a search of the GMA website more than 126 hits relating to schools, most of which are either submitted testimony or a letter filed in opposition to a school-related nutrition policy. Document titles include: GMA Letter in Opposition of Texas Food and Beverage Restrictions, GMA Letter in Opposition to Oregon School Restrictions Bills, GMA Requests Veto of Kentucky School Restrictions Bill, and GMA Letter in Opposition to California School Nutrition Bill.[25] They have also opposed efforts to limit the sale of soda in schools.

GMA also has lobbyists in every state capital working to weaken or defeat legislation. In 2004, GMA helped defeat a California bill that would have set nutrition standards for school food. With more lobbying resources and money to contribute to political campaigns, the GMA is able to beat back nutrition advocates.[26] GMA lobbyists have also banded together with soda lobbyists to oppose efforts to limit the sale of soda in schools and with restaurant associations to oppose the posting of calories on menu boards.[27]

Labor in the Chocolate Industry

In 2001, GMA and the chocolate industry lobbied against legislation in the U.S. Congress that would put "slave free" labels on chocolate. In the West African country of Ivory Coast, children as young as 11 are sold into slavery to harvest cocoa beans. The country supplies almost half of U.S. cocoa. According to a U.S. State Department estimate, up to 15,000 children in the Ivory Coast work as slaves in cocoa, cotton, and coffee production.

Two former U.S. Senators who were Senate majority leaders, Bob Dole (Republican from Kansas) and George J. Mitchell (Democrat from Maine), were hired to lobby lawmakers against legislation requiring these "slave free" labels.[28][29]

Fueling Opposition to Ethanol

In early 2008, after realizing that "rising food prices ... create a window to change perceptions about the benefits of bio-fuels," GMA decided to launch "an 'aggressive' public relations campaign ... in an effort to roll back ethanol mandates that passed in last year's energy bill," reported Roll Call. In March, GMA began searching for a PR firm to help it build "a global center-left coalition" against ethanol and hire "trusted third-party experts" who would link ethanol to global hunger and poverty.[30]

The Glover Park Group submitted a six-month, $50,000 proposal to GMA and won the account. As part of the campaign, Glover Park suggested attacking "whatever intellectual justification might still exist for corn-based ethanol among policy elites," launching a website and possibly creating a "costumed 'mascot' ... to drawn attention and distribute advocacy materials at local supermarkets." U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who strongly criticized the anti-ethanol PR campaign, posted GMA's "request for proposal" (PDF) and Glover Park's response (PDF) on his website. [30]

Bush Addresses GMA Conference

As an example of a GMA conference, on October 30, 2007, President George Bush addressed the group in Washington, DC. Bush shook hands with and was introduced by Sunny Delight Beverages CEO William B. Cyr. Bush then went on to talk about his opposition to the Democrats' position on health care.[31][32]

Political Contributions

GMA's PAC made $222,245 in political contributions at the federal level in 2014 -- 63 percent to Republicans and 37 percent to Democrats -- according to the Center for Responsive Politics.[33] The top recipient of GMA political funding from 1989 through the second quarter of 2014 was Democratic Senator Ron Kind of Wisconsin, according to the Sunlight Foundation.[7] GMA made $11,073,608 in political contributions at the state level in 2014, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.[34]

Lobbying

GMA has spent $41,052,904 in lobbying at the federal level 1989 through the second quarter of 2014, according to the Sunlight Foundation.[7] It spent $4,620,347 lobbying at the federal level[35] and had eight lobbyists active in three states in 2014.[36]

2012 Lobbying Data:

Lobbying Firm Amount Reported Issue
DTB Associates $12,000 Geographical indications, trade negotiations, sanitary and phytosanitary issues
Grocery Manufacturers Association $1,940,000 No bill # -- Competitive Foods (entire issue); FDA Funding (relating to food); Hunger Funding (entire issue); Food Labels (entire issue); 2012 Farm Bill (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). HR 1075 -- Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit Repeal Act (entire bill); S 1057 -- Ethanol Subsidy & Tariff Repeal Act (entire bill); S 1185 -- Ethanol Reform and Deficit Reduction Act (entire bill); HR 2307 -- Ethanol Subsidy Repeal Act (entire bill); HR 1188 -- Repeal Ethanol Subsidies Today Act of 2011 (entire bill); HR 3097 -- Renewable Fuel Standard Flexibility Act (RFS reform); Ethanol -- eliminating infrastructure funding. S 25 -- Stop Unfair Giveaways and Restrictions Act of 2011 (entire bill); S 685 -- Free Sugar Act of 2011 (entire bill); HR 1739 -- Free Sugar Act of 2011 (entire bill); HR 1385 -- Free Market Sugar Act (entire bill); S 847 -- Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (entire bill); No bill # -- TSCA regulations under existing law (entire issue); No bill # -- reference dose for dioxin; No bill # -- BPA (entire issue).HR 5973 -- Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013 (funding for FDA); S 3240 -- Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, food labeling provisions, and the US sugar program); No bill # -- 2012 House Farm Bill (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the US sugar program); S 2375 -- Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.
Duberstein Group $200,000 FDA review of BPA - Executive Branch action re this issue. Labeling of genetically modified ingredients - Executive Branch action re this issue. Food safety issue involving Bisphenol-A (BPA) - Feinstein amendment to S 3187, Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. Labeling of genetically modified ingredients - Amendment to S 3240, Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012. Restrictions on use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - HR 5973, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013; S 3240, Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012; proposed legislation re this issue. Sugar loan program reform - Proposed amendment to S 3240, Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012.Renewable fuels standard and the ethanol mandate in gasoline - Proposed legislation re these issues.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association spent $1,420,000 for lobbying in 2006. $780,000 went to eight lobbying firms with the remainder being spent using in-house lobbyists. They spent $1,560,000 lobbying in 2007, [37] In 2008, they expanded their lobbying operations, spending $4.5 million [38] They spent $3.2 million in 2009, [39] 3.9 million in 2010 [40] and another 3.9 million in 2011 [41]

Some of the lobbying firms used were Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, Patton Boggs, Covington & Burling, and the lobby group Alliance for American Advertising.[42]

Member Companies

GMA states that its Board of Directors is "comprised entirely of the leaders of our member organizations."[43] See a list of board members under Personnel below. A few of the hundreds of member companies:[2]

Personnel

Pamela Bailey is GMA's President and CEO.[44][4] She previously served as President and CEO of the Personal Care Products Council, a cosmetics industry group.[45]

Executive Staff as of December 2013 (total compensation FY 2013):[4]

  • Pamela Bailey, President and CEO ($3,056,030)
  • Steve McCroddan, Senior Vice President, CFO, CAO ($419,876)
  • Sean Darragh, Executive Vice President - Global Strategies ($571,631)
  • Jim Flannery, Senior Executive Vice President - Operations and Industry Collaboration ($589,565)
  • Mary Sophos, Executive Vice President - Policy and Strategic Planning ($543,024)
  • Louis Finkel, Executive Vice President - Government Affairs ($567,316)
  • Leon Bruner, Executive Vice President - Scientific/Regulatory Affairs ($511,747)
  • Donald McBride, Executive Vice President - Communications ($419,835)
  • George Dunaif, Vice President - Food Safety and Tech. Service ($297,687)
  • Carla Mitchell, Vice President - Human Resources ($321,072)
  • Robert Burns, Vice President - Health & Nutrition Policy ($289,418)
  • Emilia Lonardo, Vice President - Consumer Product Safety & Science Policy ($260,341)
  • Michael Gruber, Vice President - Federal Affairs ($275,249)

Board of Directors (as of December 2013):[4]

As of February 2008, board members included:[46]

Contact Details

1350 I (Eye) Street, NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 639-5900
Fax: (202) 639-5932
Email: info AT gmaonline.org
Web: http://www.gmaonline.org

Resources and Articles

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References

  1. About GMA (news release). Grocery Manufacturers Association. Retrieved on February 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Grocery Manufacturers Association, Membership, organizational website, archived by The Wayback Machine December 26, 2013.
  3. About page, Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association, March 12, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Grocery Manufacturers Association, 2013 IRS Form 990, trade association's annual IRS filing, May 12, 2014.
  5. GMA Science and Education Foundation, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, May 8, 2014.
  6. Center for Responsive Politics, Grocery Manufacturers Assn Summary, OpenSecrets political influence database, accessed April 2015.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Sunlight Foundation, Grocery Manufacturers Assn, Influence Explorer, accessed April 2015.
  8. National Institute on Money in State Politics, Grocery Manufacturers Association : As a Contributor: Giving by Election Year, FollowTheMoney state political influence database, accessed April 2015.
  9. Center for Responsive Politics, Grocery Manufacturers Assn: Lobbying: Summary, OpenSecrets political influence database, accessed April 2015.
  10. National Institute on Money in State Politics, Grocery Manufacturers Association: Lobbying Information: As a Client: By Year, FollowTheMoney state political influence database, accessed April 2015.
  11. Rebekah Wilce, Monsanto Sues Maui for Direct Democracy, Launches New PR Campaign, PRWatch, November 24, 2014.
  12. Dave Gram, "Vermont Law on GMO Labels Stands," U.S. News and World Report, April 27, 2015.
  13. Elizabeth Murray, "Food industry groups appeal GMO law ruling," Burlington Free Press, May 6, 2015.
  14. Grocery Manufacturers Association, GMA Praises Introduction of National Food Labeling Bill, organizational press release, March 25, 2015.
  15. Lisa Neff, Koch-backed law seeks to block GMO labeling, Wisconsin Gazette, April 19, 2015.
  16. Elizabeth Weise, "Washington state voters reject labeling of GMO foods," USA Today, November 6, 2013.
  17. Oregonians for Food and Shelter, OFS History, organizational website, archived by the WayBack Machine July 4, 2008.
  18. Rebekah Wilce, Oregon's GMO Sellout, PRWatch, May 21, 2014.
  19. Rebekah Wilce, Oregon Residents Challenge the State "Right-to-Farm" Law, PRWatch, September 8, 2014.
  20. CropLife America, 2009 IRS Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, November 5, 2010, p. 27.
  21. Michele Simon, Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines our Health and How to Fight Back (paperback) (Nation Books, 2006), 146.
  22. United States Department of Agriculture, "MyPyramid.gov", accessed October 2008.
  23. Food, beverage companies will use new food guide to promote healthy lifestyles (news release). Grocery Manufacturers Association (April 19, 2005).
  24. GMA and Weekly Reader will reach 4 million students with nutrition education program (news release). Grocery Manufacturers Association (September 28, 2005).
  25. Michele Simon, "Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back." (paperback) (Nation Books, 2006), 223.
  26. Michele Simon, "Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back." (paperback) (Nation Books, 2006), 223-224.
  27. Michele Simon, "Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back." (paperback) (Nation Books, 2006), 230, 210.
  28. Sumana Chatterjee, "Chocolate Firms Fight 'Slave Free' Labels", Philadelphia Inquirer/CorpWatch, August 1, 2001.
  29. George J. Mitchell, NNDB, accessed December 2007.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Anna Palmer, "Beating Up on Ethanol: Glover Park Helps Frame the Debate," Roll Call, May 14, 2008.
  31. "President Bush Addresses Fall Conference", GMA, accessed February 2008.
  32. Jennifer Loven, "Bush goes after Democrats on health care", USA Today, October 30, 2007.
  33. Center for Responsive Politics, Grocery Manufacturers Assn Summary, OpenSecrets political influence database, accessed April 2015.
  34. National Institute on Money in State Politics, Grocery Manufacturers Association : As a Contributor: Giving by Election Year, FollowTheMoney state political influence database, accessed April 2015.
  35. Center for Responsive Politics, Grocery Manufacturers Assn: Lobbying: Summary, OpenSecrets political influence database, accessed April 2015.
  36. National Institute on Money in State Politics, Grocery Manufacturers Association: Lobbying Information: As a Client: By Year, FollowTheMoney state political influence database, accessed April 2015.
  37. Grocery Manufacturers Association lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed July 27th, 2012.
  38. Grocery Manufacturers Association lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed July 27th, 2012.
  39. Grocery Manufacturers Association lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed July 27th, 2012.
  40. Grocery Manufacturers Association lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed July 27th, 2012.
  41. Grocery Manufacturers Association lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed July 27th, 2012.
  42. Grocery Manufacturers Association lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed February 2008.
  43. Grocery Manufacturers of America, "Boards, Councils & Committees," organizational website, accessed April 21, 2015.
  44. Grocery Manufacturers Association, GMA Urges Quick Action to Approve Trade Promotion Authority Legislation, organizational press release, April 16, 2015.
  45. "US: GMA Appoints New President & CEO," Namnews, December 11, 2008.
  46. Board of Directors, GMA, accessed February 2008.