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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

Yvonne says …

Thank you for your attention to Non GMO food. That is why I will continue to shop at your market.

Susan Cushing says …

I can't even express how excited I am that Whole Foods has made the announcement that it will be requiring labeling on all GMO ingredients in the products they carry. We MUST stop GMO foods whenever and wherever we can. These products have been proven to be dangerous to our health and do not increase food production. Thank you for standing up and caring about your customers. It's why I will continue to shop at Whole Foods.

rita says …

why are you even allowing GMO in the first place!!!! there is enough 'searching' that has to happen in the store for organic vs conventional, now we have to read labels for GMO's too. ridiculous

Linda Trent says …

I cannot find anywhere in this reply from you addressing the question posed about the ingredients in the deli cases. It causes me to be wary of buying anything from the deli.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LINDA - Are you inquiring if the items in our deli case will be labeled? If so, every single item in our store will contain a GMO label so that will apply to all in-house made items as well.

Cindy pickles says …

Wow. This was the best news ever. I am sure your stock sky rocketed after this announcement. I shop at Whole Foods all the time as I am gluten and dairy free also. Even my husband is getting involved. We also feed our dog organic. The GE or GMO food will be the death of us. Thanks

Joe Pooter says …

Thats great that this corporation quite possibly has not sold their soul to the devil and joined with the Bilderberg Group to decrease the population with cancerous and harmful GMO foods!

Elliott Black says …

Right On !! Fight the GMO power, Monsanto !! Keep up the good work.

Martin says …

"Standards prohibit the INTENTIONAL use of GMO seed in the production of organic crops" we did not INTEND to use GMO Seeds... Since they did not INTEND... No harm, No Foul. The word INTENTIONAL is included for a reason...Read the quote without the word INTENTIONAL...Adds liability does it not? Only a matter of time before we read the stories/lawsuits about products in Whole Foods being sold as one thing to only be proven as something else and yes you got it "The Corporate Side" of Whole Foods defense will be we did not "INTEND". Side note: At least 5 years ago I went to buy my raw milk to find it was removed from the store? Why I asked? The clerk told me it was too expensive for the store to insure so they "Corporate" made a business decision to just pull it from the shelves. That is when I knew Whole Foods had started to sell out. I am still a Whole Foods Shopper. But like everywhere buyer beware so do your OWN homework!

Mary McDonnell says …

So, we have to have 5 yrs of imbibing GMO products at Whole Foods? This is unacceptable. You can do something about this right NOW! Presently, there is rampant use of canola oil in your prepared foods. You know as well as many that canloa oil that is not labeled "organic", is most likely GMO. As you also know that non organic corn is most likely GMO. Therefore, you are knowingly selling GMO products. These items could be removed/replaced immediately.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MARY - All of the canola oil used in our prepared food items is verified non-GMO. The labeling, unfortunately, cannot happen overnight as each product/ingredient needs to go through testing. We currently have store specific lists available online for the non-GMO items at your local store.

Mark Johnson says …

Sending best wishes & congratulations to both WholeFoods CEO's and the organization for taking this decision and backing their choice with transparent guidelines for suppliers and customers. This is an important moment as the industry leader comes to the forefront on a fundamental human rights issue. Transparency in food labeling, knowing what is in our water and air; these are basic human rights. Their stores are still the best in the business. And we do care how the company that supplies our food manages their affairs on our behalf. We will keep going in the door because we can depend on them doing the right thing when it counts.

Keely Coutant says …

With labeling of GMO containing foods such a hot topic for me, personally, I am interested in a current update of Whole Foods' continuing commitment to in-store labeling by 2018. Thank you.

Matt Cormons says …

Wonderful! This may make those pushing GMOs on consumers take notice and realize they can't force their products on them. Your doing this is a giant step in the battle for labeling GMO foods. I hope other chains do the same.

Margaret says …

Thank you, Whole Foods! This restores my faith in your willingness to do the right thing as fast and as efficiently as possible. As Staci commented below, I was also surprised based on your lack of support for CA's Prop 37 Initiative. I have not been back in your store since then and avowed never to return. I now rescind that vow and will happily shop at Whole Foods whenever I am not buying directly from local organic farmers. A heartfelt "Thank you, for leading the way!"

Sky says …

It is about time. Labeling GMO's can't happen fast enough!! I want to know. I would like to know which meats have been raised with antibiotics and growth hormones. I would also like to know which deli meats have preservatives. Go whole foods!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SKY - We do not sell any meat with added hormones or antibiotics. We also not now allow artificial preservatives in any products we sell in our stores.

Shelly Palmer says …

I am so happy to read this and I have facebooked the heck out of it! Please, please, please open up a store in Southern Illinois (just east of St. Louis)

bob says …

John Mackey Rules! and is in beast mode!

Cee Cee Ceman says …

When are you going to advertise this more than a blip on your website? This is huge! :) Applause to you!

Maria Aiello says …

As a loyal customer of Whole Foods Market, I would like to say thank you to all those at Whole Foods Corporation who strive to bring us the healthy, organic, non-GMO, Whole Foods. Especially in light of the vote today in the House of Representatives to pass the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act," otherwise known as the DARK Act, I am most grateful to Whole Foods for all the work you do to keep our food and environment safe and healthy and to bring transparency to our food products. Being that I am unable to grow my own food at this time, I honestly don't know what I'd do without Whole Foods. I don't have adequate words to express how grateful I am to Whole Foods. Thank you again.

Kevin Levine says …

GMO's have to go. Why would we want to eat food that causes tumors anyway?

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