AUSTIN, TX – Whole Foods Market has announced that it will require all products sold in its U.S. and Canadian stores be labeled if they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMO products are foods that have been manipulated through genetic engineering by introducing changes into their DNA structure.
“We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer’s right to know,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, in a press release. “The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products. Accordingly, we are stepping up our support of certified organic agriculture, where GMOs are not allowed, and we are working together with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future.”
Gary Hirshberg, the CEO of Stonyfield Yogurt and the chairman of the Just Label It campaign, has been a long-time vocal proponent of the move to label GMO foods. In a recent blog at The Huffington Post, he explains:
Our government’s failure to require labeling, and to be engaged in developing the science supporting GE food risk assessment is an absolute breach of its responsibility to the American public.
There are in fact lots of reasons to label these foods: health and environmental concerns, ethical/religious views or just because people want to know. In fact, Mellman research shows 92 percent of citizens want the right to know with no meaningful statistical difference between men and women, Republicans and Democrats, urban and rural communities, education level or any demographic.
The bottom line is: without labeling, consumers are completely in the dark. The FDA can label GE foods. And the vast majority of consumers want them to be labeled.
Showing that it is determined to keep its commitment to labeling GMOs, Whole Foods has placed the following statement on its web site:
Our goal at Whole Foods Market is to provide informed consumer choice with regard to genetically engineered ingredients (also known as GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms). Clearly labeled products enable shoppers who want to avoid foods made with GMOs to do so. Accordingly, we have set a deadline that, by 2018, all products in our U.S. and Canadian stores must be labeled to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Whole Foods Market is the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency.
Whole Foods Market has been collaborating with many of its supplier partners for several years to source products without GMO ingredients. In 2009, the company began putting its 365 Everyday Value™ line through Non-GMO Project™ verification and encouraged its grocery supplier partners to do the same. Whole Foods Market currently sells 3,300 Non-GMO Project verified products from 250 brands, more than any other retailer in North America. It will now expand this effort, working with suppliers in all categories as they transition to ingredients from non-GMO sources, or clearly label products containing GMOs by the five-year deadline. Whole Foods Market will make announcements about progress and key milestones along the way.