Granola bar maker slapped with glyphosate lawsuit

Three American groups, all supporters of organic agriculture, are suing General Mills over glyphosate residues in Nature Valley granola bars.

Moms Across America, Beyond Pesticides and the Organic Consumers Association filed the lawsuit Aug. 24 in the District of Columbia Superior Court.

The groups claim General Mills is misleading the public because the label on the granola bars says ‘made with 100 percent natural whole grain oats.’

They say the word ‘natural’ misleads because Nature Valley granola bars contain trace amounts of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide.

“Glyphosate cannot be considered ‘natural’ because it is a toxic, synthetic herbicide,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “It should not be allowed for use in food production, and certainly not in food with a label that suggests to consumers that the major ingredient, oats, is 100 percent natural, when it is produced with and contains the highly hazardous glyphosate.”

The groups say glyphosate is dangerous because in 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization, classified the herbicide as probably carcinogenic to humans.

Many other agencies, such as the European Food Safety Authority and Health Canada, have also studied glyphosate’s safety and concluded it is not carcinogenic.

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Earlier this year, representatives of Moms Across America bought Nature Valley granola bars from a drugstore in Washington, D.C.

Subsequent laboratory testing showed the bars had trace amounts of glyphosate.

The level of glyphosate was below U.S. tolerances in food but any amount of the herbicide is unacceptable if General Mills claims their granola bars are natural, the groups said.

“As a mother, when I read “100 percent Natural” I would expect that to mean no synthetic or toxic chemicals at all,” said Zen Honeycutt, executive director of Moms Across America.

The statement of claim said the source of glyphosate is “known only to General Mills and its suppliers,” but could be caused when farmers spray glyphosate on oats to dry down the crop for harvest.

Western Canada, primarily growers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, produces most of the oats in North America and is the major supplier to food manufacturers like General Mills.

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Spraying the crop with glyphosate before harvest, is a common production practice.

The lawsuit applies to Nature Valley granola bars and a number of General Mills foods, including breakfast biscuits and oatmeal squares.

Feldman said the lawsuit isn’t about financial compensation for consumers who bought granola bars based on misleading information.

The non-profit groups want to stop companies like General Mills from using false and deceptive claims, because the oat products in question are not “made with 100 percent natural whole grain oats.”

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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  • richard

    Sadly the insidious proliferation of glyphosate as a growth regulator in virtually all crops means that residues will be found in almost everything…..Nothing is natural when no ecosystem on the planet is spared the wrath of the nozzleheads….And we call this progress….Are we living on the planet of the apes???

    • Warren Lauzon

      Define “Natural”.

      • richard

        …..untainted by the hubris of industrial agriculture…..hard to imagine people dont want antibiotic in their granola bars???

        • Jarrod

          Richard, I hope that you don’t believe that glyphosate is an antibiotic, an antibiotic is something that inhibits growth of a microorganism, not a plant. Glyphosate is a salt that is used as a herbicide, meaning it only is active on plants.
          As for your disdain for industrial agriculture, none of the food products available in your local grocery store would be available without industrial agriculture, and believe it or not the world would not be able to support the population we have without it.

          • richard

            GLYPHOSATE/US Patent7771736/ antibiotic/antimicrobial…. Jarrod, when we become educated it behooves us to engage our critical faculties, such that we dont become victims of various cults of eminent mythologies….. in this case, agribiz. The fact that someone on the “inside” told you glyphosate is just salt and that the world is starving for even higher levels of environmental toxicity in order to feed itself, are pure mythological constructs…..And anyone who dares to maintain his or her intellectual integrity in the face of corporate wheedling will not be pestered into submission by any quantity of necessary illusions peddled on these pages…..sorry

          • Dean

            Hate to break it to you Richard, but table salt (even natural sea salt) Can also be classified as antimicrobial. I’m sure you already knew that. Maybe we should attack high liner for serving frozen fish that contain trace amounts of sea salt.

          • Rob Bright

            … Glyphosate has three patents: 1) chelator (for cleaning out boilers and pipes); 2) antibiotic; 3) herbicide. Maybe you should google search”straw man” so you can understand why your particular type of argument is utterly bogus and foolish…

          • Duncan DeBunkerman

            You are ignoring the difference between acute and chronic toxicity.

            Tables salt is acutely toxic but people ingest it over a lifetime without any health problems and they would die without it.

            Glyphosate is a chronically toxic from the smallest dose up but it slowly degrades your body at the cellular level until the weakest system breaks down and the system dies.

        • Warren Lauzon

          So you believe that organic is does not use industrial methods? Ignoring the fact that the term “natural” is basically meaningless.

          • StopGMO

            Organic agriculture will use non-synthetic and non-systemic herbicides, if and when needed. They have strict guidelines they have to follow otherwise, what’s the use of organic farming if they are allowed to farm like conventional farmers? It’s not the same at all so stop trying to confuse people.

          • Organics by law are not allowed to use synthetic petrochemical pesticides or genetically engineered products.
            FDA “They must be grown and processed using organic farming methods that recycle resources produced and promote biodiversity — two key elements of environmentally sustainable agriculture. Crops must be grown without using synthetic pesticides, under the National
            bioengineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers and sewage sludge-based fertilizers .”

      • By law in the US, “natural” labeling used to mean no synthetic chemicals
        or genetically engineered ingredients. But today the FDA is looking to
        gut the definition like in Canada where “natural” means nothing. The
        info is on the FDA – Food Guidance & Regulation Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information by Topic Labeling & Nutrition

        • Damo

          Once again, wrong.

    • Damo

      Growth regulator???

  • M

    The foundation for legal action against General Mills has no ground work. Buzz words such as natural, free range, etc have littered the food marketplace for years, but there is a lack of supportive evidence or definitive characteristics for most of these trendy words. While I do agree that the natural word has a sort of organic feeling to it, nowhere on the package does General Mills claim that the product is organic. Also, does it sell for the typical organic premium? Food packages can only contain so much information, it’s upto the consumer to evaluate their options and make rational decisions based on their preferences or disposable income. Buyer beware.

    It begs the question whether the whole gm outcry is really about the technology or process or a jab at Monsanto and the Roundup trademark. Honestly, I think it’s about the latter because it’s easy to bully the weak kid in the playground. Monsanto isn’t the only game in town, but rarely are the others mentioned.

    • Harold

      The word “organic” is not on trial. The word “Natural” (of nature) and the accepted use of this word as a product label is. The legalities of the word Natural is being tested in the proper forum and that is the courts. (dictionary vs corporate) After a Judges preponderance of the evidence is complete, a judgment will be made. From the judgment, all consumers will know what the legal term of the word “Natural” on food packaging actually means and is. The assumptions are eliminated. The end result is not “buyer beware” as it is now, it is buyer-is-aware. This means that if one thinks that they are Glyphosate deficient in their diet, that they can choose General Mills or perhaps they need to look elsewhere. Everybody’s happy. (except the lobby party)

    • richard

      …..”its easy to bully the weak kid on the playground” Monsanto?… the victim?….Please…..Talk about your karma running over your dogma….

      • Rob Bright

        These pro-GMO activists and spokespeople are pretty well trained to make ‘black’ look ‘white,’ and make [bad] sound “awesome.” It’s all in their Ketchum playbook of PR spin and pseudoscience. Considering they likely only get about 5 cent per post from the agrochemical industry, they must have to spend hours and hours each day spouting off this antiscience gibberish.

        • steve webster

          I used to think Monsanto was not so bad until I seen what happens when you are affected by their GMO crops. Monsanto does even look at the field until you take them to court. I found that I am not the person this happen to.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    Ugh, a frivolous lawsuit. Just what one would expect from these folks. I hope they get stuck with the legal fees and that the defense is allowed to bring up the nonsense honeyucutt came up with regarding her phony breast milk claims.

    • ed

      The lab results proved with science that there were glysophate in the bars. Pretty clear it seems.

  • Chris

    I bet all of the people involved in the lawsuit wear a bucket of perfume every day. You may have to do some research to understand the irony.

    • patzagame

      Okay,I’ll take your bet,research this..irony.

      • Rob Bright

        Let’s see… it is ironic that pro-GMO activists and spokespeople spout antiscience, propaganda while claiming the “science” supports their gibberish claims. 😉

        • Damo

          Oh my. Please provide the science that supports your claims. I will be back when you provide it–so don’t expect me back.

          • Harold

            Propaganda exists by the very use of the word anti-science, as no such thing exists. (gibberish)

            Gibberish is created when the accepted scientific thought is closed to all challengers, regardless of frontier.(secrecy)

            Science supports my claim as does it further support Rob Bright’s claim, to which you are welcome to research the details of science doctrine.

    • Keith Duhaime

      Or just not have slept through high school chemistry like Zen Honeycutt et al.

    • Hardly — we don’t wear perfume and we do lots and lots of research. We
      also teach people how to get the toxins out of their homes as well.
      Why don’t you check out their websites — and do a little research
      yourself?

      • Dean

        Google research or actual peer reviewed scientific literature? …

      • Keith Duhaime

        We’ve seen your ‘research’. Anyone that didn’t sleep through high school science can debunk it in 10 minutes. Now show us something significant, that passed peer review with proper research methodology and statistical methods, and that is contextually relevant, which you never do when asked.

        • Harold

          Times sure have changed! When I finished high-school, I and others only received a diploma. Don’t ever recall anyone awarded a doctorate nor a PHD title.
          Secondly, Peer review is not the same as a double blind test to prevent perjury.
          Thirdly, science is especially open to all those who oppose it. This condition has yet to be met.
          I can debunk your Theory of High-school in the same time it took to write this comment.

          • Damo

            You don’t need a PhD to debunk pseudoscience, you only need to understand that anecdotal evidence is not sufficient and correlation does not equal causation. That is the problem with most of this research, simply using coincidences to prove a hypothesis.

          • Harold

            Lets see if I understand what you are saying translated.
            You said as follows: You don’t need knowledge to prove pseudo and science, you only need knowledge that the lack of evidence is not enough and connection does not equal cause of motion. That is the problem with most of this knowledge, simply using two or more incidents to prove a thought. …

  • grinninglibber

    Thank Monsnato – the whole world is polluted with thier poisons .
    The ones that were claimed to biodegrade in a week.

  • Warren Lauzon

    What a bunch of idiots. Oh well, this will give some lawyers some cash flow.

    • Harold

      Idiots are those who seek disclosure and resolve? Was an Idiot responsible for finding Glyphosate in the Granola bar or was an idiot responsible for allowing it in the food in the first place. Which of the two Idiots need a lawyer?
      I’m not sure what you mean by “what a bunch of Idiots” but I do know that lawyers help create the laws that create their own “cash flow”, and therefore they cannot be considered as being the Idiots.
      When you don’t know the contents of the foods you are eating, who is the Idiot? The producer or the customer. In the consciousness of being a parent, could you give your toddler a food knowing that it contained trace amounts of glyophosate? If known, I’m confident that a vast majority of parents would choose not to be that Idiot.If there is full disclosure, then there is no need for lawyers and therefore we become Judge, Jury, and executor – a position that the corporate and Government, and we as their educated people, fear the most.

      • Warren Lauzon

        Idiots for making parts per billion sound like the apocalypse.

        • Harold

          What part per billion is safe for your toddler. ( i am not interested in your answer if you don’t have children of your own) If the answer is 0, then every measure above is the apocalypse.
          An Idiot will try to harm a child in the presence of the parents, and will not expect an apocalypse to endure, no matter how small the harm. Like a bear. its not gratified by an eye for an eye. If you think this is theory- test it.
          If you at anytime have been PAPA bear in the course of your duty, then respect those who do the same in kind. They are your gratification. Idiots? If you are a papa bear, then you know what MAMA bear is like.
          Then again, the topic was neither this, nor of Idiots, but of a dictionary word fraud as tested before the courts. Very simple.

          • Warren Lauzon

            You are getting more carcinogens from breathing. Look up the top 10 causes of death for children, glyphosate will not be on that list – yet people ignore the major causes and focus on things that might kill 1 in a billion at most.

          • Harold

            A goose chase that you provide is not the formation of facts regarding Glyphosate. As the article has identified that the consumption of Glyphosate is hidden from the public many times over, how then will the public bring the association to their doctor. How will the Doctor bring the association to the public. The hidden Glyphosate seems to sooth you and you wish to look at breathing instead. (justification for use)
            Doctors and scientists have taken upon themselves to prove the effects of Glyphosate, and their information is vastly ignored. With knowledge, the consumer cannot refuse the consumption of Glyphosate, as it is hidden from view, therefore proving a no health benifit venture.
            In your conscience, If this is good enough for you under your watch, so be it.
            By the way, the top 6 causes are FOOD borne illnesses, and the majority of the rest are of mysterious causes. {Science journals] You do know that the cause of Cancer remains a mystery don’t you. Hidden is a mystery; correct?
            For me, it is foolish to argue that one carcinogenic justifies the use of many more, or that from many more, the elimination of one is fruitless. How will one achieve zero.

  • steve webster

    |I understand the lawsuit as i had crop sold to japan through no fault of mine had soybean contained a small amount GMO. soybeans it was one or 3 beans at the top of the plants in less than 1% of the plant in the field We took the plant to grain terminal and they said they had never seen this before. 5 different people walked the field to confirm this was what had happened I talked to a plant breeder at U of G to confirm it. I phoned Monsanto kept samples of every thing. Monsanto did not even phone me back until I took them to court. Monsanto used a very expensive lawyer and made it plane to me the other party and the judge that they would spend enough on legal fees to bankrupt me. Roundup is being found in much grain that is being harvest many countries like japan have very strict controls on it. I agree the lawsuit seems overboard but people should told about GMO. grains when are used and if a product is natural it should not roundup on some the grain.

  • ontheprairies

    Interesting if you look at their website many on the executive clearly use chemicals to dye their hair….If you are going to lobby a position you have to be consistent in all areas of your life!

    • Harold

      Are we to understand that a persons hair style nullifies content? If so, I’m sure you’ll find more hair dye in Monsanto’s camp nullifying him to. After all, one must “be consistent in all areas of your life!”. Are the common morals an area of life?

  • Denise

    I couldn’t find the article again where they were discussing the mineral deficiencies in cattle fodder containing GMO corn and GMO soybeans and that they are finding they have to add supplements of Mg to the feed to keep the animals healthy.
    This is the other insidious nature of glyphosate. It is a mineral chelator which removes zinc, chromium, cobalt,selenium,sulphur,copper,magnesium,and manganese ,(to name a few minerals) and micronutrients which are essential co-factors in many plants and human enzymes. ( info from indepenent science researcher Robert Hardt A.E.N.T)
    It also disrupts DNA and RNA functions by chelating essential minerals. Not good for livestock OR people,wouldn’t you agree?

  • Duncan DeBunkerman

    No many groups consider weed killer contaminated food to be “natural”.

  • Harold

    The interpretation of “Natural” only differs between two groups when one of those groups will not pick up a dictionary. Dictionary meanings are what we rely upon to bring clarity and light upon any given subject. To prevent the abuse of our language at the hands of the Corporate, one group is going to Court. This group should be applauded by the grandstander’s; if for nothing more but upholding our language and word meanings, but sadly some are not.
    Moreover, who are the people in power, other than us the living people. That is to say, Who are governments and corporations, without our people power.(acceptance)
    Who are the poor, other than all those seeking affordable food, and at who’s hand is, or was the cause. Are the elite groups seeking affordable food?
    Who are those, and what becomes of those whose food contains very limited nutrition.
    There is only one reason to eat, and that is nutrition, and not for the sake of “food”.
    Lastly, optimism is borne of critical thinking and not the other way around. Perhaps you would like the corporate to dictate to you their own for-profit interpretations of your language, and as such, they seem fit, but that is your choice.

  • richard

    Well M it may surprise you to know that I am ecstatic about current food production…..farmgate, free range, hormone free, pesticide free, local, farmers market, GMO free, organic, biodynamic, humane, homegrown delicious real food with taste and texture….the kinda food that chefs and intelligent people cant get enough of… The fact that the rest of humanity is dying to cram pretty much anything else down their pie holes is function of personal choice….. However, when forty percent of global food production is wasted, from field to port to wholesale to retail to homes and restaurants…. compounded by the fact that the western world is gorging itself into obesity with commensurate staggering health care costs, it can only be symptomatic of a culture of deep self contempt and disrespect towards the essence of real food….. Pesticide residues in food are hardcore evidence of that disrespect…..There is no metric of progress to be found here…..none.

  • P_B

    Same old, same old on glyphosate arguments. However, it is possible to harvest oats (and wheat) without using glyphosate as a harvest aid. It is called a “swather.” We do this on most of our acres to limit the amount of glyphosate used to minimize weed resistance. Oats would be tricky to be free of glyphosate contamination if it is used as dry down because the husk is harvested with the kernel. Wheat at least the husk is primarily gone in the threshing process. There also needs to be some serious education/enforcement on labeling laws. When used as a harvest aid there is a 7-10 window, depending on the crop, where harvesting is forbidden. Farmers in a hurry, or to beat a rain, sometimes push that window, basically resulting in an illegal, off-label use when they do. And that could be a reason why there was contamination.