Quantcast

Court Rules Against General Mills Motion to Dismiss, Says It's Reasonable Consumers Wouldn't Consider Glyphosate-Containing Nature Valley Granola Bars 'Natural'

Popular

Moms Across America, Organic Consumers Association and Beyond Pesticides announced Monday that the District of Columbia Superior Court has rejected General Mills' motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the three nonprofits against the maker of Nature Valley granola bars. The recent ruling upholds the right of nonprofits to bring these types of complaints against corporations. It also reinforces the notion that consumers can reasonably expect a product labeled "100% Natural" to be free of herbicides.


These three nonprofit groups sued General Mills in August 2016, for misleading the public by labeling Nature Valley brand granola bars as "Made with 100% NATURAL whole grain OATS" after tests revealed the presence of the chemical herbicide glyphosate, an ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup and hundreds of other glyphosate-based herbicides. The suit was brought on behalf of the nonprofits' members in Washington, DC, under the District of Columbia's Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

"This is a huge win for consumers," said Organic Consumers Association's international director Ronnie Cummins. "In making this ruling, the judge reinforced the right of consumers to have reasonable expectations about what a company means by 'natural.' The 'natural' food industry is estimated at $90 billion a year. By slapping the word 'natural' on products that contain pesticides and other unnatural substances, corporations deceive consumers, and cut into the market share for authentically labeled healthy and certified organic products."

Key findings from the DC Superior Court ruling include:

  • The Court recognized that the 2012 Amendments to the DC Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) may have expanded the means by which nonprofits may bring representative actions.
  • The Court rejected General Mills' argument that courts should defer to the FDA on possible future ruling re: "natural" food labeling, holding that it was up to the courts to decide what is or isn't misleading to consumers.
  • The Court also noted that it does not appear likely that the FDA will issue a ruling on "natural" anytime soon—rejecting a common argument made by so many food producers seeking to avoid liability for their misrepresentations.
  • The Court held that a reasonable jury could find that General Mills' "Made With 100% Natural Whole Grain Oats" claims were misleading to consumers.
"When a customer chooses a food product that says 100% Natural on the packaging, they do so because the food manufacturer has communicated to them, with that claim, that their products are without harmful, man-made chemicals," Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America, said. "We are very pleased that this case will be heard and misleading labeling will be addressed."

Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, agrees. "In this case, consumer law is critical to rein in companies that deceive consumers with 'natural' labeling when their products contain ingredients that are grown with pesticides," Feldman said.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Aerial assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.

Read More Show Less
Giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, California. lucky-photographer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This aerial view shows the Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for 2019 Rugby World Cup. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.

Read More Show Less
Vera_Petrunina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wudan Yan

In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."

Read More Show Less
Volunteer caucasian woman giving grain to starving African children. Bartosz Hadyniak / E+ / Getty Images

By Frances Moore Lappé

Food will be scarce, expensive and less nutritious," CNN warns us in its coverage of the UN's new "Climate Change and Land" report. The New York Times announces that "Climate Change Threatens the World's Food Supply."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
British Airways 757. Jon Osborne / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Adam Vaughan

Two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change, polling has found.

Read More Show Less
Climate Week NYC

On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.

Read More Show Less

By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans

Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.

Read More Show Less