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.