Natural Products Insider

SEP-OCT 2017

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10 INSIDER September/October 2017 In the News However, it's common for such rulings to be appealed, and several lawyers representing the plaintiffs did not respond to a request for comment. What's more, General Mills still must deal with a related lawsuit in the nation's capital. In August, three nonprofi t organizations fi led a lawsuit in the District of Columbia against General Mills after they discovered glyphosate was detected in Nature Valley granola bars. Glyphosate, the organizations noted, is present in Monsanto's Roundup and hundreds of other herbicides. Katherine Paul, a spokesperson for the Organic Consumers Association—one of the plaintiffs in the case—pointed out that her organization's lawsuit recently survived a motion to dismiss fi led by General Mills. The lawsuit, fi led in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, is a "private attorney general" action brought under the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA). Among other fi ndings, the court determined that "plainly, a reasonable fact-fi nder considering the facts as alleged could conclude that consumers have been misled in violation of the CPPA." In announcing the lawsuit, Beyond Pesticides, Organic Consumers Association and Moms Across America proclaimed consumers expect General Mills' Nature Valley granola bars to be "natural and free of toxins." "Glyphosate cannot be considered 'natural' because it is a toxic, synthetic herbicide," Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, said in a statement at the time the lawsuit was fi led. Responding to the complaint, General Mills described the plaintiffs' allegations as being "without merit." "The statements on our Nature Valley labels are truthful and accurate," the company said in an emailed statement. In 2015, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen, according to a lawsuit fi led in 2016 against PepsiCo Inc.'s The Quaker Oats Company over its "100% natural" oatmeal products. However, a subsequent meeting held in Geneva involving the WHO and a United Nations (UN) panel concluded "glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet," according to a report published in May. In an amended class action complaint fi led in June—a month after the UN-WHO report was published—plaintiffs observed that glyphosate is found in Quaker Oats because it is used as a weed killer and sprayed on the oats to dry them before harvest. "There is nothing unlawful about Quaker Oats' growing and processing methods," the complaint asserted. "What is unlawful is Quaker's claim that Quaker Oats is something that it is not in order to capitalize on growing consumer demand for healthful, natural products." Sabrina Wheeler, the plaintiff, voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit in September, court records show. Edward Wallace, a plaintiff's attorney representing Wheeler, did not respond to a request for comment, and Quaker Oats declined to comment.

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