Goldfish Crackers targeted in ‘natural’ lawsuit over genetically engineered soy as Prop 37 supporters launch ‘GMO inside’ initiative

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Genetically modified organism Genetically modified food

Goldfish Crackers targeted in ‘natural’ lawsuit over genetically engineered soy as Prop 37 supporters launch ‘GMO inside’ initiative
While Prop 37 did not pass, the failure to disclose the presence of GMOs in foods that are marketed as ‘natural’ is still generating a steady stream of civil litigation, with Goldfish Crackers the latest brand to be targeted in a class action lawsuit over genetically engineered ingredients.

In a complaint filed in a US district court in Colorado last week, plaintiff Sonya Bolerjack alleged that Pepperidge Farm (owned by Campbell Soup) had “mistakenly or misleadingly represented that its Cheddar Goldfish crackers are ‘Natural’ when in fact, they are not, because they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the form of soy and/or soy derivatives.”

Bolerjack, who is represented by law firm Howard w. Rubinstein, alleges that “genetically modified soy products contain genes and/or DNA that would not normally be in them, and are thus not natural.”

Seeking to represent a nationwide class of consumers who purchased the crackers since November 2008, Bolerjack alleges violation of Colorado’s Consumer Protection Act, breach of express warranty and negligent misrepresentation, and seeks damages and a jury trial.

A spokeswoman for Pepperidge Farm told FoodNavigator-USA: "We don't comment on the specifics of pending litigation but we are confident in the accuracy of our labels and stand behind our products​."

Attorney: I would still expect enterprising plaintiff lawyers to bring lawsuits for all-natural claims made with GMO ingredients

Justin Prochnow, an attorney in the Denver office of law firm Greenberg Traurig, said the action proved that food companies remained vulnerable to lawsuits over the use of GMOs, regardless of the defeat of Californian GMO labelling initiative Proposition 37​.

He added: "I am sure the close margin will only encourage proponents to renew efforts next go-around, perhaps with some changes to the private right of action provisions which seem to be the real sticking point for many opponents.

"Lest you think that issue is tabled for now, I would still expect enterprising plaintiff lawyers to bring lawsuits for all-natural claims made with GMO ingredients."

NPA: Having a patchwork of different state laws on GMO labeling is not in industry's best interests

Indeed, few industry sources FoodNavigator-USA spoke to at the Supply Side West trade show last week expect the GMO labeling issue to go away, with several predicting more copy-cat proposals in other states.

Speaking at an election special session at the show last Thursday, Natural Products Association president John Shaw said this would be bad news, adding: "Having a patchwork of different state laws that address the GMO issue is not in the industry's best interests."

Should such a scenario emerge, a federal solution may have to be developed in order to ensure that labeling is consistent across all states and that some of the problematic aspects of Prop 37 are addressed such as the 'natural' definition and the bounty hunter clauses, added Council for Responsible Nutrition government relations VP Mike Greene.

Just Label It: Federal GE foods labeling must now be the focus


Meanwhile, Proposition 37 backers including Food Democracy Now, Green America, Institute for Responsible Technology, Foodbabe, Nature's Path​ and Nutiva have vowed to renew efforts to force food companies to label products containing genetically engineered ingredients with a new ‘GMO inside’​ initiative.

Consumer advocacy groups are also collecting signatures for a GMO labeling measure on Washington’s 2013 ballot, and say they will continue to urge the Food and Drug Administration to take action at a federal level.

Just Label It Campaign Director David Bancroft said: “Federal GE foods labeling must now be the focus.”

Prop 37 supporters back new ‘GMO inside’


Alisa Gravitz, CEO of Green America​, added: "Corporations may have misled voters in California about GMOs, but they can't change the fact that over 90% of Americans support the labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients.

"The GMO Inside campaign will make it possible for all Americans to find GMOs in the food products in their homes and communities, label them, and switch to non-GMO foods instead."

John W. Roulac, CEO and founder of organic superfood brand Nutiva​, said: "GMO Inside was created to catapult the energy from the fight for Prop 37 to the next level."

Sambazon: We’ll continue to fight for the right of Americans to know what is in our food


Ryan Black, CEO of Californian organic juices and supplements maker Sambazon​, told FoodNavigator-USA: “It’s a major disappointment that Prop 37 didn’t pass, but the fight for food label transparency isn’t over."

He added: “The Yes on 37 campaign was unfortunately outspent by huge agri-business conglomerates and corporations that launched an onslaught of misleading advertising.

“However, it was inspiring to see so many industry leaders unite to stir grassroots support for food label transparency… We’ll continue to fight for the fundamental right of all Americans to know what is in our food.”

 Click here​ to read more about the Prop 37 vote.

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Posted by Mary Lee,

You are wrong on just about every point you made Mike. First the poll was 93% want GMO labeling. Not banning of GMO, just labeled. You can see the poll results here by ABC:

The reason the vote was NO, was because of the 46 million dollars spent by agri-business scaring uninformed voters by stretching the truth on certain issues and the policing of small business and being able to bring lawsuits for violators. This is NOT the GMO issue, it is more the way the proposition was written. Several recent studies have shown that GMO's cause tumors and sterility in rats. Not little tumors, massive and numerous tumors. Another study found the poison implanted into GMO to deter pests in fetuses of pregnant women. Excuse me, why is everyone not alarmed by all this?

It is also true that most countries Ban or require labeling of GMO's. I can't say every, but I can say every large country but us does. Europe doesn't even allow it to be grown or sold there. Personally, I WANT to know what is in the food I eat and feed my children and if it has been genetically modified, I want it right in front of me so I can put it back on the shelf!

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Posted by Mike,

EVERY OTHER NATION bans or requires labeling of GMO ingredients. I doubt that very much.
One quote has the 'Yes for Prop 37' saying 90% of Americans want GMO labeling. Wow, that is quite the favorable percentage. I highly question that number. If that many, why did Prop 37 fail. And don't use the excuse of big business spreading false information. If 90% say they want it, Prop 37 should have passed with a breeze.
Hey Jesse, because GMO is not labeled means that people don't know what it is? They can't do thier research without it on the label. What makes you think they will if it is on the label? I guess the pro Prop 37 group did not do a very good job in educating those in California.
As for ice cream 'having' to put nutrition labeling on thier container cause it informs us of how bad it is? In case you have not noticed, all food packages display nutrition panels and have since 1993. Ice cream is not bad for you, unless you decide to eat a whole carton in one sitting.
I read one article that stated that GMO will no doubt someday be added to labeling. I agree, someday it will. Whether I feel it needs to be is another matter.

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Shills for GMO and GE foods still replicating! Yes on 37 ballots still being counted!

Posted by peter white,

Thanks to recently improving cloning, GMO and GE techniques, formerly "Natural" or "All Natural" and increasingly toxic persons of lower-than-average intelligence (and willing to work covertly, overtly and on the cheap for less-than-helpful-corporate-bottom-line-versus-human-health-and-well-being causes) are popping up everywhere, including in comment sites like this... Vote are still being counted in California, apparently with enough of them out there to re-"flip" this back to a YES on 37 success.

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