I’ve been receiving questions about comments I made during a panel discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival when I was asked about GMO legislation. I truly appreciate all of the feedback and want to provide clarification and context so that there’s no misunderstanding about Whole Foods Market’s position on GMO labeling.

My comment about Senator Stabenow “doing an incredible thing” with the bill was an acknowledgement that garnering bipartisan support on mandating any amount of GMO transparency represents significant progress over the DARK Act, which would have prevented mandatory labeling of GMOs at the state or national level. While the Stabenow-Roberts bill and the Vermont bill both aim to make it easier for consumers to identify GMO ingredients for consumers— a good thing at the fundamental level—no piece of legislation is perfect.

I ended my response by reiterating that regardless of how GMO legislation may unfold, Whole Foods Market remains committed to working with our supplier partners to provide transparency in our U.S. and Canadian stores in 2018 and that our policy goes beyond what’s being proposed at the state or national level.  

Whole Foods Market has supported all state-level GMO labeling initiatives where we have stores with the hope that any bills that pass will lead to national legislation. We’ve long-supported the idea of a national policy requiring mandatory GMO labeling because it would help accelerate change in the marketplace and provide transparency for all customers nationwide. That said, our position has always been to support mandatory labeling of GMO foods through clear, on-package language, not QR codes or 1-800 numbers, which is our primary concern with the Stabenow-Roberts bill as currently written.

We believe that in order to be truly transparent, food labels needs three things: a real standard (organic, for example), a third party verification and a reasonable label claim that’s easy for a customer to understand.  It’s not just up to food companies to provide this though. Consumer demand plays a critical role in accelerating these changes. 

Our customers told us that they want more transparency and we listened.  We encourage you to voice your feedback on this bill to your senators who are currently examining this piece of legislation. 

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J Schuler says …

It would not matter how good your policy is at WF when and if the definition of what is gmo goes down to only 4% of what it should be. It would then be illegal for you to identify them as gmo, fyi. I will see if I can find the email and from what organization that said all of these things. and post here.

Kaw says …

Manufacturers should NOT have a choice...consumers have the right to know exactly what their hard earned money is buying. Anything less than that is not acceptable nor is it what the public requested. Shame on our legislators, the food manufacturers and companies like Whole Foods that are allowing anything less than that. This is not transparency and is not good for all involved.

Ronald Hollis says …

Coalition of 70 groups condemn “compromise” bill that would keep the public in the dark ??????? Where is Whole Foods Markets Name ??????? Center for Food Safety – Food and Water Watch – Beyond Pesticides – Biosafety Alliance - Abundance Cooperative Market – Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center – Central Park West CSA – Citizens for GMO Labeling – Crop CSA – Crush Wine and Spirits – Dr. Bronner’s – East New York Farms – Empire State Consumer Project – Family Farm Defenders – Farm Aid – Food Democracy Now – Foundation Earth – Friends of the Earth – Genesis Farm – GMO Action Alliance – GMO Free NY – GMO Free USA – GMO Inside – Good Earth Natural Foods – iEat Green, LLC – Institute for Responsible Technology – International Center for Technology Assessment – Katchkie Farm – Keep the Soil in Organic Coalition – Kezialain Farm – Label GMOs – LIC Brewery – Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association – Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service – Miskell's Premium Organics – Moms Across America - National Family Farm Coalition – National Organic Coalition – Nature’s Path – Nine Mile Market - Non-GMO Project – Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance - Northeast Organic Farming Association – Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire – Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York – Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont – Nutiva – NYC H20 – Oregon Right to Know – Organic Consumers Association – OFARM – Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association – Our Family Farms – PCC Natural Markets – Pesticide Action Network North America – Presence Marketing – Physicians for Social Responsibility – Regeneration Vermont – Riverside-Salem United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ – Rodale Institute – Rural Advancement Foundation International – Rural Advancement Foundation International USA – Rural Vermont – Sierra Club – Slow Food California – Slow Food Hudson Valley – Slow Food North Shore - Slow Food USA – Soil Not Oil Coalition – Sunnyside CSA – The Cornucopia Institute – The Organic & Non-GMO Report – U.S. Public Interest Research Group – Vermont Public Interest Research Group – Vermont Right to Know GMOs Coalition – Wood Prairie Family Farm

Hat Bailey says …

Sorry, but your weak response to this egregious bill that destroys the win in Vermont with a limp wristed betrayal of both state sovereignty and the public's right to know, by a company that purports to be for transparency has created a lot of anger in many like me who are so disappointed with you in this matter. It will take more than this "clarification" to begin to win back the trust we had in you and your company. We will have to see some real effort or money expended to make restitution for this failure to support a real labelling law before this breach in trust will begin to be healed. We expected much more from you. If it had been GMA or one of the big corporate chains, we understand where they are coming from, they are not perceived as our friends, they are not pretending to be on our side in this issue.

Betty says …

I am disappointed that you endorsed in any way shape or form the bill discussed with Ms Stabeno. Say what you will, I look at your actions & they don't match your words! You've climbed into bed with Monsanto & lost a longtime customer. Cancer is through the roof because our food chain is contaminated by you greedy folks. I'm off to Trader Joe's