Quantcast

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

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.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

In tea, food, or just on your windowsill, embrace the fragrance and fantastic healing potential of herbs.

Read More Show Less

By Ana Santos Rutschman

The world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug Administration. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned and will step down in early April. His temporary replacement is Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
MartinPrescott / iStock / Getty Images

On Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first 20 chemicals it plans to prioritize as "high priority" for assessment under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Given the EPA's record of malfeasance on chemicals policy over the past two years, it is clear that these are chemicals that EPA is prioritizing to ensure that they are not properly evaluated or regulated.

Read More Show Less
Strawberries top the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of U.S. produce most contaminated with pesticides. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP / Getty Images

Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That's the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.

Read More Show Less
A drilling rig in a Wyoming natural gas field. William Campbell / Corbis via Getty Images

A U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on 300,000 acres of federal leases in Wyoming Tuesday, arguing that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "did not sufficiently consider climate change" when auctioning off the land, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mizina / iStock / Getty Images

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Oats are widely regarded as one of the healthiest grains you can eat, as they're packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Read More Show Less
JPMorgan Chase building in New York City. Ben Sutherland / CC BY 2.0

By Sharon Kelly

A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability speaking on conflict of interest demand of the People's Demands at a defining action launching the Demands at COP24. Corporate Accountability

By Patti Lynn

2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."

Read More Show Less