General Mills to settle pesticide lawsuit by changing Nature Valley labels

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: General Mills
Pic: General Mills
General Mills, INC. has agreed to remove ‘Made with 100% Natural Whole Grain Oats’ claim from its Nature Valley’s packaging following a lawsuit alleged its bars contained small amounts of pesticide.

The suit, filed two years ago by three non-profit organizations (Organic Consumers Association, Moms Across America and Beyond Pesticides), claimed the company and its oats suppliers were aware of the existence of glyphosate in their products, but chose not to disclose it.

‘False and misleading representations’

According to court documents, ‘​glyphosate is used when the oat crops are sprayed with the chemical in order to dry them and produce an earlier, more uniform harvest – a practice with no health benefits, meant only to increase yield.’

It noted tests conducted by an independent laboratory revealed the amount of glyphosate in the Nature Valley to be 0.45ppm.

‘Consumers lack the scientific knowledge necessary to know or to ascertain the true ingredients and quality of the products, or to assess the safety of ingesting glyphosate.

‘[Hence], General Mills’ false and misleading representations and omissions violate the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Act,’ ​said the lawsuit.

It noted the products that allegedly contain glyphosate include Nature Valley’s Crunchy granola bars, Sweet and Salty Nut granola bars, Breakfast Biscuits and Oatmeal Squares, according to the lawsuit.

The cereal giant’s settlement follows a similar suit against Monsanto, which was ordered to pay $289m​ to a groundskeeper who claimed its Roundup herbicide caused his cancer.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) also published a report​ based on commissioned independent laboratory tests that found glyphosate in 43 popular oat-based sample products, including Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats ‘n Honey and Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal.

General Mills’ defense

Despite the accusation, General Mills said it is confident in the accuracy of Nature Valley’s label.

‘We made the decision to settle this case to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation and to focus our efforts on what is most important to our consumers, making great-tasting Nature Valley products with 100% whole grain oats,’​ it said.

The company was also hit with another lawsuit recently, filed by a Florida resident who alleged the cereal maker failed to disclose the presence of the weed-killer in its Cheerios products.

General Mills’ spokesperson Mike Siemienas said: “As standing practice, we don’t comment on pending litigation.

“In reference to the Environmental Working Group’s report, our products are safe and without question they meet regulatory safety levels.

“The EPA [US Environmental Protection Agency] has researched this issue and has set rules that we follow as do farmers who grow crops including wheat and oats,”​ he added.

“We continue to work closely with farmers, our suppliers and conservation organizations to minimize the use of pesticides on the crops and ingredients we use in our foods,”​ said Siemienas.

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