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The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Label GMOs: Yes on Washington’s 522

Joe Rogoff is the Pacific Northwest regional president, overseeing stores in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, a distribution center, and Select Fish, a seafood facility.

In April, Whole Foods Market® publicly announced its support for Yes on 522, the campaign in Washington State to require labeling of genetically modified food. For Whole Foods Market, this issue is about transparency and the consumer’s right to make informed decisions. We believe that growers using genetically modified seed, and producers using the products grown from those seeds, have an obligation to share that information with the public. The price paid by the food industry for relabeling is small compared to the distrust that increasingly results from their concealment.

For almost a year, we have worked closely with a coalition of industry partners and collaborators to advance education about the importance of labeling GMOs. We are proud to support Yes on 522 and to work with the campaign staff daily.

This spring, we developed and launched a program called Will Vote for Food. The program is driven by the collective voice and commitment of grocers, vendors and producers from across the state and country, and is anchored in an online site, WillVoteforFood.com. The Will Vote for Food campaign includes a wide range of grassroots community activities and multiple in-store events at our seven Washington state locations in the months leading up to the November vote. In-store activities include:

  • Extensive customer education about GMOs, labeling and Initiative  522 including signage, printed shopping bags, and Non-GMO Project-verified snack sampling; and
  • A comprehensive Team Member education program that includes participation by the executive director of Non-GMO Project and the campaign manager for 522.

We developed a roadshow booth that is being used at the majority of our community events this summer. We’ve invested in sponsorship and staffing for 10 farmer’s markets and four Friday evening summer concerts in the month of August.

We’ll also host a speaker series panel at Feast, a national culinary event in Portland that will focus on GMOs and transparency and feature Nature’s Path’s Aaron Stevens, Delana Jones of Yes on 522, author Robyn O'Brien, and Whole Foods Market’s Grocery Executive Coordinator, Errol Schweizer.

To support these efforts, we’ve printed thousands of brochures, stickers, yard signs, t-shirts and reusable shopping bags that we are giving away at the events and in our Washington stores. We’ve also purchased print, radio and digital advertising in the Seattle market.

We support Yes on 522 and are investing in the consumer’s right to know. At Whole Foods Market, we Will Vote for Food.


Correction 9/18/13: While we have done a lot to support Yes of 522, we are not on the finance committee as an earlier version stated.

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John Kochis says …

After spending around $100,000 in your store over the past decade I am distressed to find that much of this food I've purchased was made with Monsanto GMO corn, soy, and canola. Even Kashi is GMO! These "food like substances" are not only unnatural, untested, and risky to Humans, they are laced with the Round-up chemical Glyphosate which is now proven to cause, infertility, cancer, liver damage, and cancer. What we want is for Whole Foods to step up the GMO labeling mandate to mid 2014. You are a giant in the health food industry and you can call the shots. Do like Trader Joes or else they are going to get more and more of your market share, especially mine.

Janice Weiland says …

I am against GMO foods.

sharon gray says …

I have for many years been a big supporter of Whole Foods. I even ship boxes of your foods to my home in Singapore when I am going there. And in my PalmBeach home, I would have nothing but Whole Foods stock. But I am disappointed that it took you so long to support the right to know mandate and that you have not donated money to the cause matching your presence in the market. And I agree with John Kochis that you need to stand by what you present as your beliefs and NOT carry products containing GMO's or other questionable ing ingredients.

Cynthe Brush says …

As a LabelGMOs volunteer educator-activist since AUG 2010 (here in northern CA), our local group was very disappointed in Whole Foods slow response getting behind our Prop37 labeling initiative. Glad to see WF will not be making the same strategic error in WA's Yes on 522 efforts. Is Whole Foods donating substantial financial support to the 522 GMO labeling campaign? Let's get 522 PASSED! Totally agree with Sharon Gray: Whole Foods needs to "stand by what you present as your beliefs [corporate policies] and NOT carry products containing GMO's or other questionable ingredients." John Kochis ~ BTW Trader Joe's is NOT what they claim on their website. Many, many TJ products contain GMO / GE ingredients....Canola oil is a MAJOR offender (organic or not). We have stopped shopping there except for a handful of 'clean' organic products. Also, Trader Joe's corporate policy has been extremely uncooperative to local LabelGMO educator activists. Plus TJ's can be down right rude [dismissive] to consumers who write them concerned letters... speaking from personal experience. On the other hand, TJ's local staff are great folks....as are Whole Foods personnel. Let's get WF and TJ's headquarters in line with their shoppers and employees. We do have the power to choose where we shop.

Nick Perone says …

I too, am DISAPPOINTED that it took Whole Foods SO LONG to to support the right to know mandate. I WAS EXTREMELY DISAPOINTED at Whole Foods less than half hearted response to California right to know. Whole Foods Market needs to step up to the plate, do the right thing, and SUPPORT OUR RIGHT TO KNOW!

Nick Perone says …

I too, am disappointed that it took Whole Foods way too long to step up to the GMO lableing mandate. Whole Foods market needs to step up to the plate and support gmo labeling efforts. Whole Foods should join other companies and people and contribute money and assistance to organizations that support GMO labeling innatatives.

teru says …

As a Wholefoods shopper, I know you offer to donate customer's bag credit to a initiative of their own choice. May be this the 'Yes on 522' can be added to that list from now on, so that supporters have the option to donate their credit to this initiative ?

Penny says …

I agree with Teru - please make this issue one for which our bag credit can be applied to. I522 has tons of $ to defeat this bill and while it may have taken Whole Foods a while to become vocal about this issue, now you can make a huge difference for those of us who trust you to do the right thing. Too many people don't even know about I522 or the effect GMO products are having on our health. We need to get the word out!

Seattle Microbiologist says …

I've been a Whole Foods shopper for over a decade, and I am dismayed that Whole Foods is pandering to this anti-science hysteria. There is zero evidence that transgenic food crops are a health risk. There were valid reasons to express concerns about these new technologies a couple of decades ago, but all of those hyperbolic fears have proven untrue. Yet, the anti-science extremists still cling to the bizarre belief that transgenic foods are a dangerous poison. Funny how I don't know anyone who actually works in the biological sciences who's afraid to feed transgenic foods to their families, yet people who've proudly never completed a single college-level science course are 100% certain that transgenic foods are dangerous.

Adrian Rush says …

Whether GMOs prove to be good or bad in the long run isn't really the point of this campaign. The point is that consumers have a right to make informed choices about what's in their food. If there's nothing wrong with GMOs, then the Monsantos, DuPonts, and others pouring millions into the "no on 522" campaign have nothing to worry about. As for Whole Foods, better late than never, and I hope to see Mr. Mackey putting some of his own money and influence into supporting this campaign. Please, Washington, don't make the same mistake California did. Let's get this right! We love Whole Foods and shop at the Bellevue, WA, store all the time. Thank you for taking up the cause.

Chantal says …

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22449.cfm UMMMMMMMMMMMMM, REALLY WHOLE FOODS?!?!?!?! REALLLLLLLYYYYY?!?!?! Wth is this?!? Why did you guys just say okay?! I'm no longer a loyal customer.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CHANTAL - If you look at the date on that link, you will notice it's a crazy rumor from almost 3 years ago. We do not have any affiliation with Monsanto. We crushed the rumors on our blog as well. We believe consumers have the right to know what is in their food, which is why we announced GMO labeling for our stores.