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GMO Labeling Coming to Whole Foods Market

By Walter Robb and A.C. Gallo, March 8, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Walter Robb and A.C. Gallo

Whole Foods Market commits to full GMO transparency by giving supplier partners five years to source non-GMO ingredients or to clearly label products with ingredients containing GMOs.

Today, we stood up for the consumer’s right to know by announcing that all products in our US and Canadian stores containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be clearly labeled within five years. We heard our customers loud and clear asking us for GMO labeling and we are responding where we have control: in our own stores.

We are the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency. By 2018, we will require our supplier partners to label products containing GMO ingredients, and we will work in collaboration with them as they transition to sourcing non-GMO ingredients or to clearly labeling products with ingredients containing GMOs.

This is a complicated issue, and we wanted to give our supplier partners enough time to make this change. Fortunately, many of our suppliers are already well on their way to moving to Non-GMO ingredients and a good number are already there. While five years is the deadline, we know there will be progress much sooner and we plan to announce key milestones along the way.

The prevalence of GMOs in the US paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for grocery stores to source non-GMO choices and for consumers to choose non-GMO products. Yet we know our customers care passionately. In fact, Non-GMO™ Project verified products are among the fastest growing sellers in our non-perishable grocery category. 

For many years, we’ve sourced our 365 Everyday Value products to avoid GMOs in their plant-based ingredients and in 2009, we began putting this line through the Non-GMO Project verification program and encouraged our 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. We will continue this important work and our customers will see more and more Non-GMO Project Verified labels on products throughout our stores.

While the US and Canada still have no labeling laws, more than 60 countries do. However, many US states are currently considering mandatory labeling initiatives, like the one in Washington state, where 500,000 citizens signed a petition last year to move the initiative the next step to their state legislature for consideration. Whole Foods Market supports that ballot measure in Washington and hopes it and other such state initiatives will finally lead to one uniform set of rules in support of the consumer's right to know. There are also efforts that have made GMOs now part of a national conversation. JustLabelIt.org, for instance, has collected over 1.5 million signatures in support of mandatory federal labeling. And while we are encouraged by the many mandatory labeling initiatives, we are committed to moving forward with our own GMO transparency plan now.

Until the GMO labeling requirement is fully effective, shoppers can rely on Non-GMO Project verified products and certified organic products if they want to avoid GMOs. The US National Organic Standards prohibit the intentional use of GMO seed in the production of organic crops. As a pioneer in the US organic food movement for the past 32 years, we offer thousands of organic products, the largest variety in the country. To ensure a growing supply of non-GMO options for our customers, we are stepping up our support of organic and certified products, and we are growing the non-GMO supply chain with our supplier partners.

We are as excited about this announcement as we are dedicated to supporting transparency and our customers’ right to know what’s in their food.

Hear more from Walter Robb about the announcement in this video on his blog and watch the announcement made at Natural Products Expo here.

 

668 Comments

Comments

Joy Green says ...
Thank You for labeling the GMO's in your store so we can make wise decisions!!!!!
03/08/2013 11:17:13 AM CST
jorie rozencwaig says ...
THANK YOU!!! I thank you. My kids thank you and our health thank you. I am hoping other stores will follow but I will be shopping at Whole Foods a heck of alot more now! Thank you!
03/08/2013 11:20:47 AM CST
Charla Reaves says ...
I have always thought your stores were an excellent source for shopping organic, offering more choices than any other store around. This new initiative puts you over the top in excellence. You obviously listen to the consumers and it is so refreshing to see you take such action. I am a committed customer to your store, because you are obviously committed to your customers.
03/08/2013 11:25:04 AM CST
Jen says ...
Thank you! Will you be tackling BPA packaging next? It would be so helpful to know which cans contain BPAs and which don't (even better if all 365 brand packages didn't contain BPAs).
03/08/2013 11:25:29 AM CST
Antwan Barnes says ...
Thank you for this helpful initiative.
03/08/2013 11:28:07 AM CST
Jillian says ...
THANK YOU WHOLE FOODS! For doing the job that the gov't refuses to do! This is a private company responding to citizen demand and this is how our country should work!! Thank you for taking the first step so that GMO's will eventually be run out of our food supply because consumers will choose not purchase them! Thank you Whole Foods for finally giving people in the USA the FREEDOM of choice! Now... if you can only add more Whole Foods stores across the US!! You have NONE in Northwest Florida, we need you down here, I moved down here and am so sad without a whole foods! The closest ones are at least 6 hours away!!
03/08/2013 11:29:04 AM CST
Kate says ...
Thank you!! It really should be a given that we know what we are buying. It is unfortunate it will take that long. I am grateful it's happening. Thank you for taking a stand.
03/08/2013 11:30:56 AM CST
Beth Walsh says ...
Eeeeeek! Best news ever! On behalf of my soon to be newborn daughter (due May 2): Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
03/08/2013 11:34:54 AM CST
Anna C says ...
Thank you so much WFM!!! You are making this world a better place with this movement and I am proud to be a loyal customer. God bless!!
03/08/2013 11:44:53 AM CST
Staci says ...
I'm surprisingly shocked to read this. With the distance and lack of support Whole Foods showed during California's Prop 37 initiative this wasn't an action I expected to see. I'm very excited you've made such a bold move as it will force great change in the industry. Thank you!!!
03/08/2013 11:48:48 AM CST
Fuller Callaway says ...
Thank you! i am glad you stepped up and made this decision and commitment for your customers!
03/08/2013 11:53:35 AM CST
Guenter de Vincent says ...
All I can say super move for Whole Foods
03/08/2013 12:05:12 PM CST
Tara says ...
THANK YOU!
03/08/2013 12:12:22 PM CST
Christi Demuth says ...
5YEARS?? IT COULD BE DONE IN 1-2 YEARS. Is this just a marketing ploy?
03/08/2013 12:13:11 PM CST
Laurie says ...
This is wonderful news! Thank you for helping us, the consumers, to make this a reality! Now if all supermarket chains could take this issue seriously and follow your lead. I look forward to gaining more knowledge on what my family is eating.
03/08/2013 12:19:14 PM CST
Lucy Nickel says ...
Does this great news of GMO labeling coming soon to Wholefoods apply for Canada as well?? Waiting for your reply, Thank-you. Lucy Nickel
03/08/2013 12:20:13 PM CST
Mary Nolan says ...
I am very excited about this news! The closest Whole Foods to me is 15 miles one way, no matter which of the 3 I choose to shop. So, since I've drastically altered my eating habits and lifestyle to accommodate my avoidance of GMO products, I shop at Whole Foods at least 2x a week. If I can feel assured that work is moving in the direction of clear labeling, it will make the shopping experience so much more pleasant again, rather than a nauseating chore. I've already seen positive changes in the labeling at Whole Foods! May I ask if the deli selections can be included in this as well, so that I know I am buying organic? I look forward to updates!
03/08/2013 12:23:12 PM CST
Craig Toth says ...
I wish it began sooner, but this is a start.
03/08/2013 12:30:10 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CHRISTI - Absolutely not a marketing ploy. This is a complicated issue. We wanted to give our supplier partners enough time to make this change. While 5 years is the deadline, we know there will be progress much sooner. We plan to announce key milestones along the way.
03/08/2013 12:31:26 PM CST
ginger says ...
Thanks for the infor and doing your part! much obliged!
03/08/2013 12:37:29 PM CST
Kris Horrocks says ...
THANK YOU!
03/08/2013 12:38:32 PM CST
Cindy S. says ...
Thank you! I hope many other stores follow your example. We won't eat anything unless it's organic or Non-GMO Project verified, so this will be a big help to us.
03/08/2013 12:40:11 PM CST
Dana Preston says ...
Awesome! I hope others follow your lead.
03/08/2013 12:44:06 PM CST
Mari Whittelsey says ...
Why five years? This has been going on for 20. We need this sooner.
03/08/2013 12:44:21 PM CST
Denettee says ...
RIGHT ON!
03/08/2013 12:45:17 PM CST

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