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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.

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.

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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