Contending that the genetically modified (GM) corn in General Mills’ Kix Crispy Corn Puffs® and Honey Kix Crispy Corn Puffs® cereals renders their “All Natural Corn” representations false and misleading, a California resident has filed a putative class action against the company in state court. Lewis v. General Mills, Inc., No. BC472451 (Cal. Super. Ct., Los Angeles County, filed October 28, 2011). Citing the Cornucopia Institute’s “Cereal Crimes” report, and testing purportedly showing that Kix contains GM corn, the plaintiff seeks to certify a nationwide class of consumers who allegedly relied on the “All Natural” representations, as well as other company indicia of wholesomeness, to purchase products at a premium price and were denied the benefit of their bargain.
According to the plaintiff, companies that produce GM crops note that that their genetic makeup has been “altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs,” and the World Health Organization defines GM organisms as those “in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.” Thus, claims the plaintiff, cereal containing GM corn is unnatural, and the defendant misleads consumers by promoting Kix cereals as natural. Alleging unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices under California law, misleading, deceptive and untrue advertising, violation of the state’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act, breaches of express and implied warranties, deceit and misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment, the plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, restitution and disgorgement, compensatory and punitive damages, interest, and costs.