Roundup Complaint Filed Over Glyphosate Found In ‘Natural’ Bigelow Tea

A lawsuit filed by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) claims that advertisements indicating that Bigelow brand tea is all-natural are misleading, because it contains residue of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the controversial Monsanto weed killer Roundup, which has been linked to potential health risks in recent years. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on December 15, naming R.C. Bigelow, Inc. as a defendant. The case comes amid increased concerns about the Roundup cancer risks, and the widespread use of the herbicide worldwide.

The OCA indicates that the Roundup complaint is being filed on behalf of the general public, and consumers who assume that labels like “natural” and “all natural” means that a product is free of pesticides and chemicals.

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“Bigelow knows that health-conscious consumers will pay a premium for ‘all natural’ products believing those products are free of pesticides and other contaminants. Likewise, Bigelow knows that consumers who care about the environment will pay more for products they believe were produced using methods that don’t harm the environment,” Ronnie Cummins, international director of OCA, said in a December 18 press release. “As a consumer education and advocacy group, it’s our job to expose these false claims and force corporations to either clean up their products, or clean up their labels and advertising.”

The lawsuit accuses the company of violating the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act with labeling on its Classic Green Tea and other tea products. The manufacturer has pushed back on its own site and on social media, denying that glyphosate is present in its product.

“Please know there is zero glyphosate in any cup of our teas,” the company’s blog stated on Thursday. “Every test conducted on our teas has consistently shown we have zero of this herbicide in our cup of tea. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is scaring consumers about the health of our product.”

The lawsuit is the latest in a number of similar claims filed by consumer watchdog groups, who have sued the makers of honey, cereal and other products claiming to be “all natural.” The lawsuits say that the presence of glyphosate or the use of genetically modified crops, often made specifically to handle heavy Roundup application, make the all natural claims misleading.

Concerns over the potential side effects of Roundup exposure rose to the forefront in March 2015, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate is likely a cancer-causing agent. The IARC specifically linked the Roundup to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Monsanto now faces a growing number of Roundup cancer lawsuits filed throughout 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 the manufacturer recklessly promoted Roundup and pushed greater and greater use of the chemical, without disclosing the potential health risks.


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