GMO News sunchips-all-natural-label

Published on February 8th, 2012 | by Jennifer Kaplan


Greenwash Alert: Frito-Lay’s SunChips and Tostitos Are Not So All-Natural

friro lay sunchips

According to Frito-Lay is accused of deception in a second lawsuit on all-natural claims. The site asserts that PepsiCo’s snacks business Frito-Lay has again been accused of deceiving consumers in a second lawsuit by making all-natural claims on its products which also contain genetically modified corn and vegetable oils.

Frito-Lay, which launched their “all-natural” line last Spring,  joins a long list of mainstream companies, like that Fortune Brands (Skinny Girls Cocktails) and ConAgra (Wesson Oil), that call products all natural – even though they aren’t. Even if we put aside the attempt to greenwash GMOs, the fact remains that genetically modified corn and vegetable oils can hardly be called “all-natural.” The problem remains that the term ‘natural’ is the single most common greenwash sin (the Sin of Vagueness). points out that the term ‘natural’ can mean just about anything; it has no nutritional meaning and isn’t truly regulated by the FDA.

As our sister site reported:

The part about GMO’s not being exactly what you would call “natural” is verified by none other than Monsanto, the infamous company leading genetic food research and implementation. They define GMO’s as: “Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.”

As I’ve said many times before, I don’t begrudge people the right to eat anything they like. I’ve been known to feed my kids Tostitos (and have even eaten a few myself). But when I do, I do so  knowing I’m eating regular old snack food. The bottom lime is that we can’t condone corporations calling a product ‘all-natural’ when its no more natural than any other snack food out there. So the question remains: What is Frito-Lay’s going to do about it?

[Photo by theimpulsivebuy/Flickr]


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About the Author

is a former marketing consultant who decided, at the age of fifty, to turn her hand to creative non-fiction. Jennifer continues to write about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was been named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - follow her on and .

One Response to Greenwash Alert: Frito-Lay’s SunChips and Tostitos Are Not So All-Natural

  1. GH says:

    I think this is such a weird one. Is GE natural? Well, is anything else? They call it artificial selection for a reason. Even corn itself, strictly speaking, isn’t natural; the genetics were manipulated for years before teosinte became corn. The same could be said of brassicas like canola. That was breeding, not GE, but it still wasn’t nature that did it (and if you want to go that route one could just as easily say it was nature’s Agrobacterium and restriction enzymes ect that made the GE corn) Then there’s things like grafting, tissue culture, somaclonal variation, induced polyploidy, embryo rescue, and mutagenesis. Are they natural? If not, why do they get a free pass and why single out genetic engineering? I suppose you could say that those things happen in ways that might happen in nature, and of course, transgenics could never happen naturally, but there’s one problem with that….it does. You can even find retroviral reverse transcriptase genes in the human genome, for instance (that’s right, we’re all transgenic). I highly doubt there’s anything we eat that is free of transgenes, least of all the transposon laden corn. I suppose one could say that is different because humans didn’t do it, and when humans do it it is not natural, but then there would be inconsistency if that is not also applied to artificial selection.

    I really can’t imagine this lawsuit going anywhere. It’s a unique one I’ll give it that, but the term is too vague, and even if you did clearly define it, this suit might turn out to be on the wrong side of that definition anyway. I always kind of figured it implied that it didn’t have any artificially produced additives in it, like hydrogenated oils for instance, not necessarily that the crops involved weren’t developed with certain methods.

    I’m surprised NaturalNews [sic] points out the vagueness of the term natural. Using the appeal to natural fallacy is one of their main shticks.

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