JM Smucker to settle lawsuit over ‘all natural’ claims on Crisco oils made with GMOs

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Do GMOs belong in 'all-natural' products?
Do GMOs belong in 'all-natural' products?

Related tags: Plaintiff

JM Smucker has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit accusing it of misleading shoppers by labeling selected Crisco cooking oil as ‘all natural’, according to court papers filed in New York.

In a status report to the judge handling the case, attorney Timothy Blood - who represents the plaintiff Adrianna Ault - said the parties had “reached a settlement in principle which will resolve the case and plan to file a motion to dismiss accordingly”.

The proposed terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Ault is one of scores of plaintiffs to have filed class actions alleging that GMOs do not belong in ‘all-natural’ foods, and further alleged that selected Crisco oils derived from canola, corn or soy could not be considered 'natural' because they were so "highly processed"​ that they bore "no chemical resemblance to the ingredients from which they derive”.

According to court documents filed in August - in which district judge Paul A. Crotty rejected Ault's bid to get a class of consumers certified - Smucker had removed 'all-natural' labels from three of the four challenged products and was in the process of removing it from the fourth as he issued his order.

While the court had refused to dismiss her complaint, Crotty said Ault had "not demonstrated that the proposed class is ascertainable, or that class-wide issues predominate"​, and had "failed to show that she is entitled to injunctive relief".

None of the food crops grown commercially today would have occurred ‘naturally’

While anti-GMO activists argue that GMOs are the text-book example of something that isn’t ‘natural’, other observers argue there is nothing ‘natural’ about many conventional plant breeding techniques either - and that none of the food crops grown commercially today would have occurred ‘naturally’.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the issue of whether GMOs belong in ‘all-natural’ foods and beverages has featured heavily in the debate over GMO labeling, with the GMO labeling law in Vermont (effective July 1, 2016), for example, stipulating that products containing GMOs cannot be labeled as ‘natural’ [see p5 of the law HERE​), while HR1599 - the federal Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act 2015 - would​ allow firms to make 'natural' claims on foods made with ingredients from genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Such confusion is partly behind the FDA's surprise move this week to seek comments from the public and industry stakeholders over the use of the word 'natural' on food labels (click HERE​).

The case – filed in May 2013 in the southern district of New York - is Ault v. J.M. Smucker Co. et al, 1:13-cv-03409.  

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2 comments

PLEASE READ THIS. Why do people think pesticides are good?

Posted by Megan,

The bulk of Gmo crops have been modified to...
1)Withstand being sprayed with More glyphosate(which is now a suspected carcinogenic).
2)Produce it's own BT which is an insecticide.

Producing it's own BT is no better than spraying it because when the plant decays or is eaten and excreted threw an animal/person it stills goes into the environment.

BT insecticide is only effective on certain bugs/insects so the seeds still have to be treated with another chemical or plants need to be sprayed with something else.

Monsanto (a top producer of gmos and glyphosate) Is introducing a new herbicide called 24D to be sprayed with glyphosate, because glyphosate alone is not as effective. Thanks to resistant weeds.

Wow more chemicals. Why are people supporting this as a good thing? It's not anti science it's Anti Chemical.
Why are people trusting a company that invented/produced DDT, PCBs,Bovine growth hormone, Agent Orange, Dioxin(A carcinogen), etc.

The bottom line is,
1) Companies are trying to sell more pesticides and make money (like Monsanto).
2)Companies are tying to pass gmos off as the cure to world hunger when People aren't starving because they don't have gmos. People are starving because they're stuck in a cycle of poverty + other factors like infertile soil or living in a poor country. That's what need to be fixed.
3)Gmos at the moment don't 'yield more' they just have a tiny percent less loss because of the increase in pesticides use.

So now explain to me why this is a good thing?? Please I have no idea why it would be.

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this is outrageous, and a sad day for education

Posted by Paul Talbert,

There is no legal definition of "natural", and all domesticated plants and animals have been heavily genetically modified by human intervention. There is nothing special about laboratory-mediated transgenes. All organisms "naturally" contain transgenes that originated in other organisms, and transgenes have been selected for by traditional breeding during the domestication of sweet potatoes and the molds that ripen cheeses. There are probably many other yet-to-be-discovered cases of acquiring transgenes by traditional methods, since transferring genes between organisms is a major mode of evolutionary innovation. It is sad to see the judicial system get behind the genetic ignorance of anti-GMO activists.

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