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GMO Labeling Coming to Whole Foods Market

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.

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672 comments

Comments

Madeline Fulton says …

I think this is the best news I have heard in terms of our health and the transparency of foods!!! It sickens me that our government cares more about their cushy jobs than they do about the health of our nation. The GMO salmon is disgusting. I am glad that Whole Foods has integrity and holds up a standard that others can follow. Thank you for making this a priority and for allowing vendors some time to comply. It cannot be easy to source ingredients that are not genetically modified anymore. I will now do all of my food shopping at Whole Foods. I am a science teacher and cover GMOs in my class. I took my classes to Whole Foods in Princeton. Love the wellness center and the cooking demos. It was a great experience. Everyone I worked with cared tremendously about what they were doing.

Heathyranne says …

Kudos! Thank you for this! Whenever I'm near a Whole Foods, I will ensure I shop there to support you and this great effort you are making.

Jolana Head says …

I was upset when I saw the news feed announcing five year wait to label GMO today. but..... The next news feed announced that our local stores Hiller's IS LABELING ALL FOOD NOW! I will no longer shop my West Bloomfield and Troy MI locations. I will be shopping at Hiller's! See you in five years, .....if you have a new CEO!

Zach says …

Thank you so much! I believe that we as consumers have a right to know what's in our food.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@TERRI - We will make announcements of key milestones way before the 5 year deadline. Remember there are suppliers we are working in collaboration with here. We are giving them plenty of time but many are well on their way to full transparency. We now offer more Non-GMO Project verified options than any other grocer in North America!

Gail Johnson says …

Applaud the initiative, but why will this take FIVE years??? You certainly have the full support of your customers on getting this changed now, so what foot-dragging (and knuckle-dragging) entity is causing this to take five years? It's labeling, for crying out loud, not a change in suppliers.

VBD says …

What will the label say? Will it actually list the ingredients that are modified, or will it be like that useless “may be partially produced with genetic engineering” statement mandated in I-522?

Phil Rourk says …

Whole Foods is to be comended for showing a little leadership and community values through this announcement. But 5 years is entirely too long to have to wait for this change. The hazards to human health and the environment by GMO and especially trans-genic foods are much too great, and the damage done to a sustainable farming community by the continuation of Monsanto´s and other predatory monopolistic practices too devastating to their survival. I can´t imagine why it would take any supplier more than one year to conform to WFM´s new labeling requirements. After all, it is only labeling that we are asking for, for now. I am confident that enough scientific evidence will be amassed within a relatively few years to allow us to intelligently and fairly regulate the sale of GMO products, but, for now, truthful labeling is all we ask of a company such as WFM that sincerely seeks to assume the responsibilities of a good corporate citizen. Thanks.

Mary says …

This is the right thing to do and it is about time.

william says …

I'll then be able to make easier decisions when shopping food for my family. Thank you!

Tasha says …

This will make my shopping so much easier and more time efficient.

Grace Wolfe says …

Wish more would follow suite. Thanks for looking out for us. The decision for what we put into our body should be ours and we should know the facts

pam says …

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dan Draper says …

Hat's off to Whole Foods !!!! Finally, a food store willing to break away from the pack and offer their customers at least an option to make intelligent choices in their food purchases which have the potential for profound benefits for their entire family's health. The truth about the link between the changes which have been made to the foods we are being sold and our progressively declining health is finally coming to light. I hope other food suppliers will take note of how Whole Food's will ultimately benefit from their willingness to assist in their customer's demands for healthy living, and will realize that the profit motive does not have to coincide with evil intentions. Thank you Whole Food's for paying attention to our quest for a healthier family and coming to our aid. I don't guess I need to tell you that you will be getting all my grocery business.

Brian says …

Thank you! Thank you! This is a much needed change to rid ourselves of GMO's from our food supply and allow us as consumers to make healthy and informed decisions. Thank you for moving ahead with this initiative. I hope many more follow your lead!

Kate says …

Thank you for giving your customers the ability to know what they are purchases and make the choice themselves. I will be making the choice to not purchase foods with GMO's.

April says …

Awesome news! So happy you took a stand! Thank you!

bill says …

pbARNUM KNEW SUCKERS AND IT LOOKS LIKE WF IS LOOKING FOR SUCKERS SO THEY CAN MAKE $$$$$ WHATS WRONG WITH GMO S OTHER THAN TO SCARE FOOLS OUT OF THEIR $$$$$.

Jacq Davis says …

YES! Thank you so much for leading the way and set an example for other retailers to follow suit. This is the reason why I shop exclusively at Whole Foods!

sam wc says …

Labeling GMO foods so that we can intelligently decide which to buy is information much needed. Thank you Whole Foods Market for your interest and involvement in this topic.

Pam Letourneau says …

i was so disappointed when Whole Foods came on late in the CA initiative to pass Prop 37 and their lack of funding support. Today's news certainly is a welcome change and I support you wholeheartedly in this effort. You may win me back as a more regular customer!!

Gini says …

Quite simply: thank you.

Julie Sheehan says …

Thank you for taking the lead and honoring that we all have the right to know what's in our food and to make our own decisions as to whether or not those foods meet the health and safety standards we set for our families. Thank you for honoring our environment and the integrity of our food supply. Above all thank you for listening!

C Smith says …

Great, I suppose. But not for FIVE YEARS, though? REALLY??? May as well have said fifty years.

Toni White says …

Awesome! We have been spending about 75% of our grocery dollars at Whole Foods and now we will spend even more there to show our support. Nicely done!

Anthony says …

THANK YOU! It's nice to see a large corporation doing the right thing! Conscious Capitalism FTW~!

Tommy says …

Will this include your deli or only your packaged foods? As a long time whole foods customer I'd honestly love an answer to this question. I've seen a lot of improvements since I've been asking these questions on your facebook pages but I've never had an answer about the deli.

Ryan Carterét says …

I cannot thank you enough for this, Whole Foods! I wish the governments would wake up and do something about this issue, but thank you for taking the initiative without them. I do hope that reputable companies will not take five years to label their products, however! I can only dream of the day when GMOs are banned once and for all, and Monsanto is shut down.

Jenny says …

Yet another reason why I love your store! Thank you for doing what our regulators are afraid to do. Way to go, Whole Foods!

Kim says …

THANK YOU!

JoAnn says …

Yes!

Jenilyn says …

Thank you. This is long overdue and I could not be more proud of you guys as a company for trying this. I am scared to death of GMO's and would heartily try to support a company that is willing to go the extra mile for it's customers. I've never been to one of your stores, but you can rest assured, even if it takes me a little out of my way, I will make the effort. Thank you so much.

Darius Prusfalcon says …

Finally!

Anna says …

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

katschance8 says …

Whole Foods support of this movement is one of the most exciting announcements I have heard!!!! My number one criteria for purchasing food is to not buy products that have any type of GMO in the ingredients!!! Whole Foods I love you this step forward. We will make a difference in America!!!! Me, my kids and my grand kids and especially the next generation THANK YOU!!!

Joanie D says …

Way to go Whole Foods! Way to step up and do the right thing! Yay!!!!

Imie says …

So... let me get this straight. FIVE YEARS to put the labels on? and source out non-GMO products? It doesn't look like WF is serious about this issue at all.

Carol K says …

Great news that you will provide what the customers want and are entitled to have in labeling what they are buying....I can now, and will now, shop at Whole Foods again. You regained a lost customer.

Nika Fowler says …

Thank you so much, Whole Foods! We love your store, and it would be wonderful to have that peace of mind.

Audrey says …

I am thrilled to hear the news re the GMO labeling by Whole Foods Markets!! It is so unfortunate that most consumers, even those who are mindful of what they eat and buy, have no idea what GMOs are. Thank you for leading the way in increasing awareness and providing healthy foods!

Lisa Lewis says …

Thank you Whole Foods! I hope your business grows and grows and we can have a store in our area!

Fatina says …

Thank you! Wholefoods is now my #1 grocer :-)

steve b says …

Thank you so much, this is long over due, we are very grateful. We hope you can begin implementation much sooner than five years. And please do make public updates as you progress, this will encourage other retailers to follow your example. We are inspired by your step and will shop more at WF!

Jennifer Jansen says …

So proud to be a Whole Foods employee, and loyal customer! BRAVO! It is time to stand up for our right to know what is in our food! Keep up the fantastic work, setting a precedent for all to follow!

Caroline says …

This is the best news!! Thanks so much for caring enough about the issue to take such a stand. I live pretty far from Whole Foods, so I usually only shop there occasionally, but after hearing this announcement, I plan on going there more often!

sal says …

thank you, thank you, thank you. we usually shop at wegmans which is closer to us. My family and I will support whole foods all the way.

Tina Green says …

Thank you so much Whole Foods. This is so important, and I so appreciate your willingness to lead.

Jill Betzler says …

This is awesome!....My family & I thank you!

Paula Sarver Gross says …

Good for you Whole Foods!! Keep Pressuring for quality and informative labeling!!! Your Customers depend on your efforts !!!

John Iannone says …

Thank you! Big win for consumer choice, health, and our environment! I just bought your "Conscious Capitalism" book a couple days ago and hadn't even had a chance to start reading it yet - but I have a fair idea this is EXACTLY what it's about. Awesome. This is such good news!

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