ConAgra is one of several companies accused of selling “100% Natural” products that allegedly deceived consumers because they include “unnatural” GMO-based ingredients. On February 24, 2012, ConAgra filed a Motion to Dismiss which attacks the class action complaint on numerous grounds, one of which particularly caught my attention.
ConAgra states that the consumer protection laws of various states require a plaintiff to allege that the misrepresentation was material as to her, i.e., that without the misrepresentation, plaintiff would not have acted as she did. The motion then asserts:
Plaintiffs here do not allege with particularity that the purported misrepresentation was material as to them. ConAgra has no way of knowing why the presence of bioengineered ingredients mattered to the 21 plaintiffs, if in fact it did. Was it because Plaintiffs had concerns about the safety of the product? About health effects? About sustainable agriculture? About politics or religion? Plaintiffs do not say.
This is a great argument. Plainly, the anti-GMO movement (fueled in part by “hashtag” activism) brings with it an array of motivations, some of which are based on half-truths and misinformation. ConAgra’s argument seeks to flush out these motivations as to each of the 21 plaintiffs while setting aside the impenetrable question of whether GMO ingredients are “natural” as understood by consumers. And regardless of how the plaintiffs respond, this argument will impress upon the court that plaintiffs’ motivations might be driven more by policy than by the feeling that they were actually duped.
See ConAgra’s Motion to Dismiss here.