GMO latest: Goldfish crackers lawsuit over ‘natural’ claim

Prop. 37 may have failed, but litigation against genetically modified ingredients goes on. Here’s a new one: Pepperidge Farm has been sued in Colorado for claiming that its Goldfish crackers are “natural” when they contain ingredients derived from genetically engineered soybeans. The plaintiff, Sonya Bolerjack, wants upward of $5 million in damages.

Read an account, plus some industry and lawyer opinions at the website Also at this food and beverage litigation update provided by the law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon. (Scroll on down to page 7.)


The lawsuit is part of a “GMO Inside” initiative launched in the wake of the defeat of California’s Prop. 37, which would have required labels on foods containing genetically engineered ingredients.

The Goldfish crackers in question are cheddar flavored and sport a label on the front package that says “Natural” and then, underneath, “No artificial preservatives” and “0 grams trans fat.” Here’s a picture.

More lawsuits to come? The majority –maybe 75%-- of processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients. That’s because so many of the soybeans, corn, cotton, beets and canola grown in the U.S. are genetically modified and the oil they contain -- or the sugar or high fructose corn syrup or flour or protein -- end up in so many of the foods on our shelves.

Of course, there are a lot of reasons one could argue that a “natural” claim for Goldfish crackers is a big honking stretch. It’s a highly processed food. In an interview not long ago with UC Riverside scientist Norman Ellstrand, who has studied genetically engineered crops, he said if someone wanted to not eat GM foods, a surefire way to do it would be to eat a lot less of items like these.

“We all know that processed food is not necessarily the healthiest thing, and its not necessarily the greenest thing, so there would be other reasons why people would want to avoid them,” he said.