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Pressure builds on FDA to determine whether GMOs belong in ‘natural’ products as second lawsuit is stayed pending action by the FDA

By Elaine WATSON , 19-Jul-2013
Last updated the 19-Jul-2013 at 23:37 GMT

A week after California judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers put a class action lawsuit (Cox vs Gruma Corp) on ice for six months to let the FDA determine whether GMOs belong in foods marketed as ‘natural’, a judge in Colorado has followed her lead in a similar case vs General Mills.  

In a July 18 recommendation, US magistrate judge Michael Watanabe said the lawsuit - filed by plaintiff Nicole Van Atta last November about ‘natural’ claims on General Mills’ Nature Valley granola bars - should be stayed while the FDA determines whether firms should make natural claims about products containing ingredients from GM crops.

He said: “It is recommended that, pursuant to the primary jurisdiction doctrine, this case be stayed pending action by the FDA with respect to the referral made by Judge Rogers in Cox v. Gruma Corp., Case No. 12-cv-6502.”

He added:"The issues of fact in this matter are not within the conventional experience of judges, they require the exercise of administrative discretion, and they require uniformity and consistency in the regulation of the business entrusted to the particular agency[the FDA]. The central question in this matter clearly falls within the FDA’s regulatory authority."

In her July 11 order, Judge Rogers ordered that “deference to the FDA’s regulatory authority is the appropriate course” in the Cox vs Gruma Corp class action over ‘all-natural’ claims on Mission tortilla chips.

She added: “The court hereby refers to the FDA, for an administrative determination, the question of whether and under what circumstances food products containing ingredients produced using bio-engineered seed may or may not be labeled ‘Natural’ or ‘All Natural’ or ‘100% Natural’.”

Click here to read more about the Cox vs Gruma Corp case.

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