Federal Judge Tells FDA to Decide if Genetically Modified Foods are “Natural”

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been asked by a federal judge to determine whether food manufacturers can label foods as “natural” even if they include genetically modified ingredients.


U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers’ decision (pdf) to involve the FDA came in the lawsuit against Gruma Corp., which sells tortillas, guacamole and other products under the brand name Mission.


Lead plaintiff Elizabeth Cox sued the company in San Francisco, arguing that the defendant had no right to claim its products are “all natural” when they contain corn grown from bioengineered seeds.


Rogers wrote that the FDA has no rules “requiring that products containing [genetically-modified organisms] or bioengineered ingredients be labeled as such. The FDA has issued nonbinding industry guidance indicating that it ‘is not aware of any data or other information that would form a basis for concluding that the fact that a food or its ingredients was produced using bioengineering is a material fact that must be disclosed.’”


In addition, the judge agreed with the plaintiff that there is a “gaping hole” in federal rules regarding “natural” claims and GMOs. But, Rogers said, there is no direct regulation by the FDA on the term and no requirement that a company disclose on labeling whether GMOs are included.


Cox is seeking damages under the California Unfair Competition Law, false advertising law and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

FDA Must Say if Labels Can Call GMOs 'Natural' (by David Lee, Courthouse News Service)

Court Ruling: Elizabeth Cox vs. Gruma Corporation, et al. (U.S. District Court, Northern District of California) (pdf)

Can Food with Genetically Modified Ingredients be Sold as “Natural”? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


logan 10 years ago
somebody steer me straight, if perhaps I do not speak english as effectively as I think I do. English is my mother language, and primary language for the last 33 years. I think that U.S. patent laws in the manual for patent procedure §104 (1) 3 A iii clearly eliminate the possibility of any GMO from being called natural. why are these rulings not a simple and forthright win? what am I missing that GMO manufacturers, and distributors are not obligated under existing law to distribute the entirety of their revenue to consumers? profits, capitol gain etc, all have prior precedent in dispersal don't they? I must be missing something, unless every judge who has heard these cases is complicit in multiple violations of the law :-s

Leave a comment