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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

Joy Green says …

Thank You for labeling the GMO's in your store so we can make wise decisions!!!!!

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!

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.

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).

Antwan Barnes says …

Thank you for this helpful initiative.

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!!

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.

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!

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!!

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!!!

Fuller Callaway says …

Thank you! i am glad you stepped up and made this decision and commitment for your customers!

Guenter de Vincent says …

All I can say super move for Whole Foods

Tara says …

THANK YOU!

Christi Demuth says …

5YEARS?? IT COULD BE DONE IN 1-2 YEARS. Is this just a marketing ploy?

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.

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

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!

Craig Toth says …

I wish it began sooner, but this is a start.

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.

ginger says …

Thanks for the infor and doing your part! much obliged!

Kris Horrocks says …

THANK YOU!

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.

Dana Preston says …

Awesome! I hope others follow your lead.

Mari Whittelsey says …

Why five years? This has been going on for 20. We need this sooner.

Denettee says …

RIGHT ON!

micah whitehead says …

BIG THANKS for doing this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

terri negron says …

Nice... tell your resources to go to seedsnow.com and buy non-gmo seeds. Yippee!

morten@smorgas.com says …

I take my (chef) hat off to you for committing to label GMO's. And once you, I will return and start shopping again at Whole Foods. Morten Sohlberg, chef/owner, Smorgas Chef Restaurant Group, NYC

Kayla says …

Yes! This makes me sooo excited and wanting to shop in your stores more than ever! I want to provide healthy food for my family and this is going to help make it so much easier! Thanks!

Sabia says …

This is wonderful news Whole Foods! Thank you for supporting our right to know what is in our food. I sincerely hope that this means that Whole Foods will reconsider using GMO ingredients in your house brands. So many of the nuts, chocolates, dried fruits etc. you sell under the Whole Foods name contain non-organic canola or soy. I would love to be able to buy these products, but I am GMO-free! A step in the right direction, thank you!

Heather O says …

Happy Birthday to me! Thank you for tackling this important issue!

Brewster says …

Great work! Thank you for doing right by your customers.

jason says …

WOOHOOO!!!! Finally, someone with some weight starts using it for THE GREATER GOOD. Many companies how so much power but do nothing significant with it. Way to go Whole Foods!!!

Lauren says …

That's great news but 2018? Ridiculous. Give them 3 months. We deserve to know now.

Laura Lenhard says …

didn't Whole Foods promise only two years ago they'd NEVER allow GMOs? What happened?

Christina Busse says …

Thank you thank you thank you!!!

Amanda says …

THANK YOU WHOLE FOODS!!!! Precisely why I shop so exclusively with you. And your prices are not any more expensive than regular grocery shopping. I am on a tight budget but I still manage to get all the food I need for my family and all organic, thanks to you! :) I am excited about your non-gmo campaign and support it to the fullest!

Tracy says …

Unbelievable!!! You now have a loyal customer for life!!!

Marika Ujvari says …

Why the long wait?!? Why not now???

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LUCY - Yes, this labeling will apply to our US and Canada stores.

Uncle Ernie says …

Well good for you, then in five years I'll consider shopping at your stores as I don't eat frankenfoods, some of which you sell marked as organic. So for 5 years you'll continue to sell gmo poisons. How do you look in the mirror in the morning without cutting your throat?

Jon C says …

I shop frequently at WF and say THANK YOU!!!!! I've been particularly concerned about GMO animals/meat and salmon that's genetically modified to grow faster wihtout any kind of labeling. I assume this will cover animals and meat too. Again, Thank You for listening to your customers and taking this important step!!!

Andrea Galvin says …

While I appreciate that labeling will change why will it take 5 years? I am not sure I understand why? You are putting in a new store on Cape Cod, we want labelled food immediately as it is effecting the health of children and adults right now?

Mary Bogue says …

Seriously 2018? You cannot accomplish this NOW? Your labor policies are bad enough, but THIS behavior adds to the reasons you have lost me as a customer. Have a GMO day.

Kim Alcock says …

Thank you Whole Foods for not letting us down. I knew you would come through for us and love having that faith validated. Keep up the great work!

Nazira De Marchi says …

Great!!!!!!!!!!! ......when are you going to open one in Kauai???????

Barb says …

Greatly appreciated but 5 years is too long!!!!! They need to start complying much sooner. Changing packaging should not take that long.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LAURA - I have worked for the company for 7 years and do not recall hearing this. Did you see this on our blog? If you have a link to where you saw this I'd be happy to check it out.

Sarah Holm says …

Thank you Whole Foods! As an organic dairy farmer, this farsighted effort of yours effects me personally in a huge way. My best wishes. Thank you to you and to your consumers.

Amy Beahm says …

THANK YOU SO MUCH! You have secured me as a lifetime customer!

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