Target: Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent
Goal: Stop funding anti-Genetically Modified Organisms labeling campaigns
For a company that professes in its vision statements to “be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities,” its recent actions against a Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) labeling initiative in Washington indicate that Coca-Cola has only its bottom line in mind. Initiative 522 would have required food manufacturers to indicate on their products whether they contain genetically engineered ingredients, and it shared the fate of a similar California initiative which was defeated by another huge investment by big food corporations, to the tune of $44 million. While the anti-GMO labeling corporations donated only about half that to the cause in Washington, Coca-Cola alone gave over $1 million. Supporters of the initiative, by contrast, managed to raise less than $8 million, with a majority of donors giving under $10, indicating that the initiative was heavily supported by consumers rather than businesses.
All the money given to the “No on 522” campaign went to an advertising blitz that claimed that the initiative would have a negative impact on consumers, who would feel the brunt of the costs of labeling. They criticized consumers for wanting GMO labeling, saying that they should opt for organics if they object to genetically engineered food. But most consumers, especially families, simply cannot afford to purchase all organic foods, and if companies were really concerned about families and the community, they would elect to let consumers know what is in their food. Additionally, companies regularly redesign their labels and packaging, so it would not cost more than any redesign they might normally pay for in order to attract more customers; corporations do not pass these routine costs on to consumers, so why should they pass on GMO-labeling costs? More than nine out of ten American consumers say they want to know whether or not their food contains genetically engineered products, so these companies should be listening to their consumers rather than trying to shut out their desires.
By signing this petition, you are condemning Coca-Cola’s decision to fund the anti-labeling campaign, which seeks actively to keep consumers in the dark about the food they eat. You are urging Coca-Cola to put their support behind GMO labeling, and to revolutionize the food industry by adding GMO labels on products with genetically engineered ingredients in their next label redesign.
Dear CEO Kent,
Over 90 percent of American consumers want to know if their food contains genetically engineered ingredients, and I am among them. I am highly disappointed in Coca-Cola’s funding of anti-labeling propaganda to defeat Washington initiative 522. Coca-Cola’s money went toward a television advertising blitz claiming that introducing GMO labels would be costly for consumers; however, if you really care about consumers and the communities of Washington, why wouldn’t you absorb that cost just as you would a normal redesign of your labels? Why wouldn’t you want the consumer to have the information they desire?
I am calling on you to introduce labels identifying products with genetically engineered ingredients. American consumers clearly want labeling, and many of us cannot afford organic food. It is time for the food and beverage industry to listen and take action.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Eric Kilby via Flickr