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The makers of Quaker Oats face at least three new lawsuits brought by consumers who allege the company’s popular oatmeal products contain glyphosate, the controversial chemical that is the active ingredient in the herbicide RoundUp, and which has recently been linked to a potential risk of cancer in humans.
The complaints have been filed in recent days in California, New York and Illinois, alleging that Quaker Oat’s manufacturer, PepsiCo Inc., has falsely advertised the products as “all-natural” and “old-fashioned,” according to report by Bloomberg News.
The cases come about a year after the World Heath Orgainization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) warned glyphosate is likely human carcinogen, leading to worldwide concerns about the side effects of Roundup exposure and the widespread use of the weedkiller.
The Quaker Oats lawsuits accuse the manufacturer of false advertising and misleading labeling because the label implies that there are only natural ingredients and natural processes used to create the oats, and that it contains no chemical additives. However, the cases do not rely on whether glyphosate or Roundup actually cause cancer, but instead focus on whether PepsiCo should have informed consumers that its oatmeal products contained herbicide chemical residue.
Quaker Oats were the first food ever allowed to carry a “healthy” food label indication by the FDA, and the plaintiffs say that the labeling, and even the image of the Quaker on the cover, imply that only all-natural processes are used. The lawsuits say that consumers paid premium price for Quaker Oats believing them to be free of any chemicals or artificial substances.
The lawsuits seek class action status and seeks refunds for consumers who purchased the iconic canisters.
Roundup Cancer Concerns
The use of glyphosate has skyrocketed in recent years, amid Monsanto’s marketing strategy of creating “Roundup Ready” genetically modified seeds for crops, which are designed to withstand heavy use of the herbicide, but have resulted in more and more of the herbicide being sprayed on farm lands.
To date, about 18.9 billion pounds of glyphosate have been sprayed on the world’s crops, according to estimates of a recent study. Researchers found that glyphosate use has increased almost 15-fold since the introduction of “Roundup Ready” crops in 1996.
A recent U.S. Geological Survey on glyphosate usage nationwide found that an estimated 2.6 billion pounds of the herbicide has been sprayed on America’s agricultural land over the two decades since the mid-1990s, when Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” crops that are designed to survive being sprayed with glyphosate, killing the weeds but not the crops.
In all that time, the FDA has never tested for residue or buildup in the food sold to Americans nationwide. In a report published in 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the FDA for this deficiency in its pesticide program.
Monsanto now faces a growing number of Roundup cancer lawsuits in the United States, typically involving individuals diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following heavy exposure to the herbicide as a farm or agricultural worker. The complaints allege that plaintiffs may have avoided a cancer diagnosis if they had been warned about the Roundup risks, as safety precautions could have been taken or other products could have been used to control the growth of weeds.