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The Ninth Circuit has vacated a 2017 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order allowing some uses of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, remanding the matter to the agency with directions to revoke all tolerances and cancel all registrations for the pesticide within 60 days. League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Wheeler, No. 17-17636 (9th Cir., entered August 9, 2018.) Eleven plaintiffs and eight states acting as intervenors petitioned the court to review the order, arguing that the tolerances were inconsistent with the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) in "the face of scientific evidence that [chlorpyrifos] residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children ... a need for additional scientific research is not a valid ground for maintaining a tolerance that, after nearly two decades of studies, has not been determined safe to a ‘reasonable certainty.’” EPA argued that FDCA’s administrative process requirements deprive the court of jurisdiction until EPA issues a response…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Florida’s Natural Orange Juice is not “natural” because it is “highly processed” and contains pesticide residues. Axon v. Citrus World Inc., No. 18-4162 (E.D.N.Y., filed July 20, 2018). The complaint alleges that Citrus Inc. markets Florida’s Natural with illustrations on the packaging of “green leaves and orange blossoms as well as fresh-sliced oranges with juice visibly dripping from the fruit,” which conveys to consumers that “the juice is in fact natural and similar in result if consumers had squeezed the oranges themselves.” For alleged violations of New York’s consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiff seeks class certification, damages, restitution and attorney’s fees.

Hawaii Governor David Ige has signed a bill that will ban the use of chlorpyrifos in the state beginning January 1, 2019. The law allows users of the pesticide to apply for a temporary permit allowing its use until December 31, 2022, and prohibits the use of pesticides near schools during normal school hours. The bill was passed in May 2018 by a unanimous Hawaii legislature.

The Hawaii Legislature has passed a bill banning the use of pesticides containing chlorpyrifos and prohibiting restricted-use pesticides near schools. The legislation would prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos beginning January 1, 2019, but allow for the grant of temporary extensions through 2022. Hawaii's Department of Agriculture will also be required to produce a summary of pesticide use by county. The bill has been forwarded to Governor David Ige for approval.

The European Parliament has adopted rules governing the certification and labeling of organic foods, including supply chain checks and updated standards for organic foods imported from non-EU countries. The rules also cover plant seeds, allowing producers to offer locally adapted traditional varieties for sale and use. "Organic standards are already very high, but consumer confidence can best be strengthened when the rules are clear and comprehensible. The new regulation wil[l] certainly make a positive contribution here," MEP Martin Häusling said in a interview. “Moreover, many of the rules that give producers security are also beneficial to consumers. The annual process-oriented controls mean consumers can be sure companies are inspected regularly."

A federal court has dismissed with prejudice a putative class action alleging that Quaker Oats’ use of “100% Natural” on its products misleads consumers, holding that the plaintiffs’ claims are expressly preempted by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). Gibson v. Quaker Oats Co., No. 16-4853 (N.D. Ill., entered August 14, 2017). The plaintiffs alleged that Quaker’s use of “natural” was misleading under several state statutes because the products contained residues of the herbicide glyphosate. The court held that nutritional and food labeling is governed by the FDCA, preempting the plaintiffs' state law claims, which were “attempting to challenge how food stuffs are marketed." In addition, the court held that the FDCA expressly governs the presence of pesticide and herbicide residues in food, “establishing a clear and manifest purpose that preempts state regulation of food labeling.” The court also found the plaintiffs had no standing to pursue claims related…

Sanderson Farms, Inc.’s "all natural" chicken contains pesticides, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, according to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth and Organic Consumers Association. Organic Consumers Ass’n v. Sanderson Farms, No. 17­-3592 (N.D. Cal., filed June 22, 2017). The plaintiffs allege that Sanderson’s chicken products are advertised as “100% natural,” but testing purportedly shows the products contain human and veterinary antibiotics, tranquilizers, growth hormones, steroids and pesticides. The complaint further alleges the presence of such drugs indicate that Sanderson’s raises its chickens in “unnatural, intensive­-confinement, warehouse conditions” rather than “sipping lemonade and playing volleyball” as represented in the company’s online advertising. For alleged violations of California consumer­ protection laws, the plaintiffs seek accounting of profits, injunctive relief, corrective advertising and attorney’s fees. “Consumers should be alarmed that any food they eat contains steroids, recreational or anti­-inflammatory drugs, or antibiotics prohibited for use in livestock—much…

A Washington Post report tracking multiple shipments of corn and soybeans imported from Turkey has purportedly found that the food was sold in the U.S. market fraudulently labeled as organic. The article argues that U.S. Department of Agriculture organic standards create loopholes that allow fraud to slip through. Organic corn and soybeans grown outside of the United States are required to be inspected, the Post asserts, but they are not required to be tested for pesticide residue, and inspectors that do test have apparently found high levels of pesticide use on the supposedly organic foods. The Post tracked three shipments: the first was rejected by the importing company for failing to have proper documentation, the second was fraudulently relabeled as organic soybeans before being accepted by its importing company, which has since stopped selling "all potentially affected product," and the third was rejected by importers but continued to be marketed…

A group of California citrus growers has sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking to stop implementation of a new rule that would lift the ban on importation of lemons from Argentina, claiming the rule violates both “sound science and good public policy.” U.S. Citrus Sci. Council v. USDA, No. 17­-0680 (E.D. Cal., filed May 17, 2017). The plaintiffs assert that the United States has banned Argentine lemon imports since 1947 because “highly destructive plant pests and diseases plague Argentine citrus” and the Argentine government agency charged with plant protection “has a long and problematic history of failing to report pest and disease outbreaks promptly and of failing to ensure compliance” with basic plant protection measures. The plaintiffs argue that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service violated both the Plant Protection Act and the Administrative Procedure Act when it promulgated the new rule relying on conclusions reached during a…

Consumer­ advocacy group Beyond Pesticides has filed suit against the maker of Mott’s applesauce products, alleging the term “natural” on its labels misleads consumers because the products contain the pesticide acetamiprid. Beyond Pesticides v. Dr Pepper Snapple Grp., No. 2017 CA 003156 B (D.C. Super. Ct., filed May 5, 2017). The plaintiff asserts that the “natural” and “All Natural Ingredients” labeling on several varieties of Mott’s applesauce mislead consumers who would not expect the products to contain a “synthetic, unnatural chemical.” Claiming violations of the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act, the plaintiff seeks injunctive and equitable relief—including the establishment of a “community fund” to raise consumer awareness of acetamiprid—and attorney’s fees.   Issue 634

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