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The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

GMO/Monsanto Buyout Rumors Untrue

Stop the insanity! I help with customer inquiries here at Whole Foods Market and we’ve been hearing some wild, off-base stories from folks around the country lately.

For brevity’s sake, I’m going to list them here in hopes of dispelling these rumors.

Rumor No. 1: Whole Foods Market has been bought by Monsanto. No! What crazy talk! We’ve never had any affiliation with that company. We are publicly traded; our majority shareholders are listed in documents filed with the SEC and, I promise, Monsanto is not on the list and never has been.

Rumor No. 2: Whole Foods Market made a secret deal with Monsanto to support the deregulation of GMO crops like alfalfa. Again, no way! This ridiculous rumor started over a year ago in January 2011 because of the Organic Consumer Association’s (OCA) misleading article titled “Whole Foods Caves to Monsanto.”

You see, Whole Foods Market and others in the organic food industry met with the US Secretary of Agriculture in support of farmers’ rights to grow Non-GMO crops

Because we did not take the exact hard-line stance that the OCA did, they accused us of “being in bed with Monsanto,” and the rumor developed from there. Whole Foods Market has no ties to Monsanto and did not have any interaction with the company concerning this or any other issue. For a good description of what really happened, here’s a solid Washington Post story.

You can also read our blog response from last year.

Rumor No. 3: Whole Foods Market recently decided to start selling food with GMOs. Wrong again! As long as GMO crops have been in this country, GMOs have been in the US food supply. The most effective action we can take now is to label the food that DOESN’T include GMOs. That’s why we’ve enrolled our 365 Everyday Value and 365 Organic product line in the Non-GMO Project Verification Program, and have encouraged our branded vendors to do the same – and many, many have.

If you want to avoid GMOs, here’s what to look for in our stores:

  • Organic products, since USDA organic standards prohibit the use of GMO ingredients.
  • Our 365 Everyday Value and 365 Organic store brand food products are sourced to avoid GMO ingredients and many have been verified under the Non-GMO Project verification program. You can find a list of verified products on each of our store web pages.
  • Products labeled with the Non-GMO Project Verified label. For a shopping list of Non-GMO Project Verified products carried by your local store, check your store’s webpage or review brands and products on the Non-GMO project website.

Thanks for reading and now back to your regularly scheduled shopping.

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468 comments

Comments

candace grubbs says …

i'm so glad it isnt true!

Beccabluegurl says …

Thanks for clarifying WFs efforts. I agree with Myrtle, however, the point is that you do sell a lot of products with GMO ingredients. Is there a plan to stop doing so altogether? That would certainly be the ideal and go a long way to putting Monsanto out of business. :)

Barbara says …

In my opinion to stock GMO's even if they are labeled to that effect goes "against" the name of your store/company. WHOLE foods implies that the food is in it's natural form and untampered with. Therefore, GMO foods should not be in your stores, period. It's a paradox. The statement that they are in our country and have been doesn't wash with me as far as a "good" reason to tolerate and stock the products. You'll get my business again when you take a "stronger" stand against GMO's. Let's get back to WHOLE food and healthy food. That we have to read labels to make sure food is "real" an insanity that we've arrived at in this world. Hungary took a stance. The USA needs to take a stance. You seemingly WHOLE food grocers could have an impact in bringing that to pass.

Caro says …

So are you saying none of this is true? Because it looks pretty convincing to me. Stoneyfield sold out ages ago... http://wakeup-world.com/2012/02/05/the-organic-elite-surrenders-to-monsanto-so-what-now/

Jamie says …

Love this news!!! Keep up the good work Whole Foods & I'll be a life-long customer!

parker says …

Why should I be looking on the labels for the non-GMO labels and having to buy organic at WFM? Why do they carry conventional if this is the case? Don't believe everything this corporate giant tells you sheeple Whole Foods wants to keep GMO off of labels as much as Monsanto. Putting non-GMO looks good and doesn't "scare people" from buying conventional products. GMO gets put on labels of GMO food, WFM loses money. The end.

Lmangum says …

Nobody at WF cares about your opinion. If you want to make changes is the food labeling / manufacturing intm this country I encourage you to sign the petition at justlabelit.org

Frank Plughoff says …

While the PR language of Whole Food's stance on GMOs sounds good, it's slightly misleading. Whole Foods still allows and sells products with GMOs in their stores. And they sell their own line of "premium-priced" organic foods that have no GMOs. That's quite a marketing strategy! At a store near me, in large block letters on the outside of the store it say that Whole Foods supports the labeling of GMOs. In reality, they only support the voluntary labeling by manufacturers who do not use genetically engineered ingredients. I have directly asked Whole Foods enumerable times over past months what is their official stand on MANDATORY labeling of GMOs. Each time I have met by silence. Over 50 countries in the world either ban GMOs outright or mandate that they be labeled so that people can choose. It only makes sense that a company that touts itself as concerned for the health of its customers and the proliferation of clean and organic foods would be directly opposed to GMOs and supportive of mandatory labeling for products that contain GMOs. WHOLE FOODS - WHAT IS YOUR OFFICIAL POLICY ON MANDATORY LABELING OF FOODS CONTAINING GENETICALLY MODIFIED INGREDIENTS?????

paig292 says …

@Frank Plughoff We believe that GE food should be clearly labeled, and that the USDA and FDA’s policies on GE foods are not consistent with our consumers’ expectations. That said, we aren't going to sit around waiting for them to come around and start labeling. Instead we are putting our energy into support of <a href="http://www.nongmoproject.org/" rel="nofollow">The Non-GMO Project</a>, which works to ensure the sustained availability of non-GMO choices through an industry-wide product standard. We are committed to sourcing our store brand products to avoid GE ingredients, and we will continue to fight for strong organic standards that do not allow the use of GE crops.

Debbe says …

Thank you for the clarification. I would have become a non-whole foods shopper. I am also considering employment there, but would not have done that either. Thank you for not siding with Monsanto and keeping healthy foods as your priority.

Kimberly Kingsley says …

Wow - great post. I've often wondered about those rumors and happy to hear that they are just that - rumors. Thanks for keeping us informed. Kimberly

Helene says …

thank you for posting this. Was seeing some of the accusations from folks on your Facebook page. I am not a fan of GMOs or Monsanto.

David Alexander says …

I was sent a link to a story (Whole Foods Market Caves to Monsanto http://www.prwatch.org/spin/2011/01/9903/whole-foods-market-caves-monsanto) which implied that WFM (and others) had been fighting to stop Monsanto's genetically-engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation's organic farmland, but had agreed to stop opposing mass commercialization of GE crops in exchange for "compensation" to be paid to organic farmers for "any losses related to the contamination of his crop." I have read your blog but have not seen this specific point addressed. Would you please clarify - (1) were you at some point (in some (what?) way) fighting the contamination of organic farmlands by GE crops, and (2) have you now stopped? Thank you for clearing up any misunderstanding.

paig292 says …

@David Alexander Whole Foods Market has been a staunch supporter of non-GE foods in the marketplace for many years. We have taken a strong and visible stance on biotechnology in agriculture, and will continue to do so. We will continue to work aggressively on this issue because we believe that GE food ingredients should be clearly labeled, and that consumers who want to avoid them should have an actionable way to do so. While the USDA’s decision will make our work more difficult, we are as committed as ever to ensuring that non-GE food remains available and we will continue to advocate for our farmers and for our shoppers on this issue. I encourage you to read this blog post from last year where we talk about what we will do after the USDA's decision: http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2011/01/no-regulations-ge-alfalfa/

brian says …

I DO NOT TRUST YOUR WORD!! I WISHED I DID!!!!

Jessica Britt says …

This is great and everything, and I think that Whole Foods is okay to buy trusted name brands from, but I still prefer to buy produce from organic co-ops or farmers markets. I believe that local and organic is always the best way. Aside from the produce, certain brands are cheaper at organic co-ops and cheaper online than at Whole Foods anyway.

Susan Barnett says …

The fact is you are not using your not inconsiderable clout to fight GMOs - you have decided it is a battle you cannot win and so are content with having them labelled. And you'll sell them in your "whole foods" store. Not only that, I suspect, you'll charge more for non-GMO foods. How nice for you. How sad for your customers. I won't be one of them. "Organic" has become a label that doesn't mean much and you and many of your largest vendors have exploited that opportunity.

Eloise Hill says …

This blog smells like green washing to me, especially given the close ties between your CEO and Tom Vilsak and his relationship with Monsanto. I have been watching this story develop for some time now and there are two good things that have arisen from the media coverage: first, it is abundantly clear that the time has come for concerned consumers to quit waiting for corporations like WF to protect them and take on the fight against GMO products themselves and second, this has helped me solidify my decision to take the $6000/year that I have been spending at your stores and divide it among local vendors whose products and politics I can trust.

kitty kennedy says …

I depend on WFM for certain foods because of my dietary restrictions. I was really hoping that this would absolve WFM, but it only made matters worse. First, I never heard a rumor that Monsanto was buying out WFM. Second, there were no accusations of a "secret deal", but WFM did publicly admit that they no longer oppose mass commercialization and that they're prepared to cut a deal for coexistence. Is WFM opposing deregulation of Monsanto's GE herbicide-resistant alfalfa? No. Finally, I don't think the problem was that WFM "started" selling products produced with GMOs. It's that as WFM continues to do so, with the deregulation, everything gets less safe for their customers. I'm sure that WFM is aware of how difficult it is to keep GE crops from contaminating organic crops. I'm also sure that WFM is aware of the drastic implications on farmers whose crops do get contaminated. Not only can they not then sell those crops as organic (nor can they then compete with other farmers selling GE crops after taking costly measures to ensure that their crops were organic); but they will also then suffer the wrath of Monsanto. In addition to countless atrocities on human beings worldwide, Monsanto has been known to sue small farmers whose crops were contaminated by their seeds on the grounds of "stealing" their technology. They've wiped out farmers who might otherwise have plenty of organic or non-GMO products. These farmers can't even begin to compete with Monsanto, but Monsanto has no ethical issue with ruining them. As far as I'm concerned, any tolerance for Monsanto's practices is too much tolerance. They've proved time and time again that they cannot be trusted and that they have no regard whatsoever for human vitality or for human life. This is not good.

Elizabeth says …

Keep up the good work, Whole Foods! I am proud to be a regular customer... I had actually heard one of these rumors and knew it couldn't be true, but it's good to have an explanation for future reference.

lea says …

@ dominique. Please do some research. I work for whole foods as only a cashier...no management position. I've been with the company a few years, make over $14/hr, pay next to nothing for insurance, I am given a $1000 from Whole Foods every January on a health care card to cover copays or things like acupuncture, I receive a 27% discount, and stock and retirement options. So I do believe Whole Foods treats their employees better than you may think.

Dee says …

People need to understand that the majority of food in this world does contain GMO's! This is not some conspiracy people. Have you ever thought about the wind carrying seeds from one GMO plant to another??? It's not like Whole Foods is intentionally not labeling foods with GMO in it. It's much more realistic to assume that everything you buy that is not organic or part of the NO GMO project has some sort of GMO in it.

Mini Richards says …

Please continue to identify more gluten free foods and if possible have fresh bakery gluten free sometime and more gluten free gummy pandas and ice cream. My husband has just been diagnosed gluten intolerant and we are still learning! Thank you for all you have done to make his life more pleasant.It is a pleasure shopping at your Chandler store. Also, thank you for labeling and standing strong against GMOS/ Monsanto!

jenny says …

We need to be diligent and aware that GMO's have not been tested for safety and the hazards that they could pose to our environment and our health could be catastrophic. Monsanto and Dow Chemical company are creating frightening things to put on our tables! I just read a few days ago that Dow Chemical Company os pushing a new GMO corn seen patent through the FDA that is Agent Orange resistant. Now why would someone create a seed that is resistant to Agent Orange if they were not planning to use Agent Orange on us? Think about that &amp; remember what happened to very innocent people in Vietnam just a few short years ago. Are we coing to sit by and let this happen?

JAS says …

Well, how about stop selling ALL Canola oil. It is GMO'd to death. And, if it says Canola it is Monsanto.

Tony says …

Now Whole Foods knows what its like to be on the end of these false rumors that they themselves have previously perpetuated - serves them right. Keep charging more for yoru food - it makes nice profist and the rich and so called elite are stupid enough to pay for it

alexa says …

What hardline stance did WFM avoid that caused this misunderstanding, if it is such? Please clarify. Can I trust that when I buy non-organic meat from whole foods, it is not from animals that had been fed GMOs all their lives? Also, what makes your "conventional" produce better than any other stores? I assumed it was non-gmo but now I"m not sure. The prices are sure higher, so I hope that it is to reflect better quality and not a way to mislead people towards that impression and make more money.. I would like someone from WFM to explain roughly what percentage of produce and processed foods sold at WFM are grown or made with GMO ingredients. If I can't KNOW that my extra money isn't going towards what i previously believed it was going towards, i can't trust WFM anymore and will stick to farmers markets and my own garden. Any softening on WFM's part towards Monsanto is too much and unacceptable. thank you

Teresa Roberts says …

I am NOT assuaged. The article link provided doesn't even mention Whole Foods. It does however contain this quote: "Sharon Bomer, an executive vice president at Biotechnology Industry Organization, said “there is deep appreciation” in the GE industry for the need to minimize the spread of the crops. She said organic farmers must protect their crops. 'The burden is on them,' she said." Whole Foods should not be condoning "co-existence" with GMO foods and allowing them to "put the burden" on the organic farmers they are driving out of business with their biopiracy and lawsuits. Like the government of Hungary, we should be burning GMO fields and plowing them under.

says …

@Teresa Please read the above responses from Paige Brady.

renaldoo says …

what is inaccurate about this post: "@ Lisa You are incorrect. Many Wholefoods 365 products contain GMOs. It is only a very small minority of Whole Foods and 365 products that are labeled GMO free. The rest ARE NOT GMO free."

paig292 says …

@renaldoo We have sourced to avoid GMOs for many years in our 365 products. Non-GMO Project verification is a formal way of verifying this commitment. Simply because a product is in the middle of the verification process does not mean that it contains GMOs. Have you looked at a list of the Non-GMO products in our stores? The 10 page list of products in our Austin store seems more than a "small minority." http://wholefoodsmarket.com/specialdiets/SW_LMR_Non_GMO_Verified_Products.pdf

Mattie says …

I read an aricle (I'll try to find it), that said the USDA forced Whole Foods to sell GMO products. Is there any Truth to this? How can we put Monsanto out of business?

Todd says …

I simply love Whole Foods stores. The best bang for the buck on Organic and Natural Products. I drive over 45 miles to shop there. Unfortunately there are Brands with GMO ingrediants readily sold at Whole Foods. If a product contains Soy or Corn and its not labeled Organic you can almost assure you are buying a product with GMO's (very few exceptions here) I reported this to my local store about at least one brand that has been tested for GMO's and they said they would check into it but never did anything about it. Buying Organic is almost the only reasonable way I know of to avoid GMO's.

renaldoo says …

@ Paige Brady Take away the organics, and the list is very short. And I know only a small minority of your products are labeled Non GMO- it was only recently that you removed the "unverified" 365 products from the 365 product list on your non gmo website. Could you list them so we can compare?

Kristofer Young, DC says …

Thank you for your response! Are you saying that Whole Foods supports labeling non-GMO products rather than labeling GMO products? It seems very clear that we need the GMOs labeled. Dr. Kristofer Young

Samoan says …

Thanks for the detailed explanations.

YVONNE ESPARZA says …

THANKS FOR UPDATE. Whew!

Michelle says …

I am thankful that you're addressing this issue. In the health food industry, I think it's important to educate the public about GMOs, even if your business can't take on the Goliath Monsanto company. For 8 years, I worked in a like-minded health food store. The CEO stated, (in an ill-placed joke) "Monsanto? We love them. They give us a great deal on corn!" Obviously, the company I worked for and believed in had changed. I quit my job there a few months later. I understand that GMOs are everywhere, and it would be difficult to have a store that excluded all products containing GMO ingredients. I am proud of your company for the fact that you stand behind GMO-labeling and at least seem conscious of the implications the GMO take-over would have on the food supply, on your business, and on the health food industry as a whole.

Dorothy Kinne says …

There is NO REASON WF needs to stock its shelves with Karo Syrup but not Coca Cola. You are in bed with Monsanto or whole foods.would be GMO FREE period you are just a fancy safeway with more deceptive mwrkwting shame on you.

Arthur says …

I can't tell if this is propaganda or Whole Foods being sincere. The Organic Consumers Association wrote a good piece elucidating Whole Foods policies and products. Hopefully, my comment doesn't get censored. Dissenting opinions don't seem to be allowed. http://www.organicconsumers.org/Whole_foods_unfi.cfm http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22449.cfm

DSM says …

The WF organic high price tag on "natural" products, is starting to rub some on the wrong side.

Arthur says …

The problem with Whole Foods is its need to make larger and larger profits, since it is now a publicly traded company. The corporation now needs to pay its shareholders a nice return. If Whole Foods really cared about helping small scale producers, they would expand their offerings from small scale producers. Chocolate is one area where they are dominated by large corporations that try to make themselves look small. Dagoba anyone? Whole Foods is just like every other corporation that needs to pay its shareholders. The new corporate board does not care about organic unless it makes them more money. Whole Foods would have had to spend money to ensure the integrity of its suppliers, but it chose to give into large GMO producers and not contest GMO labeling. I used to love Whole Foods, but then I woke up to their racket. There are many good people who work for Whole Foods, true believers, but in reality Whole Foods is just another corporation. Viva Farmers Markets!

chemicals are killing my planet says …

Naked juice contains GM ingredients. I believe you sell that product. Don't sell any products that have Genetically Modified ingredients.

Suzette says …

I and other consumers have an expectation that when we shop at your store we are not at risk of eating GMO's whether the item is organic or not. We presume that when you say "Natural" that it means they follow organic policies but didn't bother with the certification. We presume as our advocate and store that you have ensured your suppliers adhere to these policies. Mayor Guliani in New York proved it only takes one influential person to make a change. If you refuse to support GMO products it will reduce the market and thereby increase the amount of organic farms and decrease the pervasive planting of GMO foods. When i shop at Whole Foods I don't want to have to search on a website for qualified products, look at a label etc... Just be brave and stop supporting them!

Regina says …

Thanks for the info, it's very helpful. Lets discuss: Clearly, WFM sells sell organic foods, and Non-GMO foods. In fact, the products on the shelves that are indeed organic &amp; non-GMO verified say so on the packaging... I purchase these items, proudly. Items which say ALL NATURAL, are just as bad as MacDonalds &amp; Monsanto. These items contain GMOs. Most every item consisting of corn, soy, canola, etc are GMO. Efforts of farmers notwithstanding, cross-pollination basically ensures this. As an educated consumer, I read every label. If any of the listed ingredients contain known GMOs, I chose not to buy it. WFM choosing to stock &amp; sell ALL NATURAL items would seem odd; but until a GMO labeling mandate is put in place, it is the responsibility of the consumer to spend their $ elsewhere. So, I shop at WFM, and read labels. I chose not to purchase the 365 brand of nuts, because they are roasted w/ Canola oil. Thank you for the labeling so I can make that choice.

Henri Clinch says …

I love WF, doing the bulk of my shopping there. But I do wish that WF products using soy lecithin, especially organic products, would state whether it is gmo soy lecithin. Even better, now that there are market alternatives, if WF could switch over to using organic soy lecithin, that would be ideal. I'd be happy to pay more.

Andy B says …

Hey folks, GMOs are not "natural" or "all natural". WF recently took a stand against misleading labeling of body care products. They need to do the same with food products. Companies should not be allowed to advertize "natural" on a product if it contains GMO ingredients. It's as simple as that. If WF wants this issue to go away they need to take a stand and require that their suppliers only put "all natural" on a product if it doesn't contain GMOs.

andrea says …

How can a company called "Whole Foods" even consider carry any sort of GMO foods and why didn't they take a harder core stance against it??? You didn't answer that question. I will buy my 3 dollar a pound apples elsewhere- Whole Foods should be called "Whole Fools"

Dominique says …

I still don't believe your propaganda. WFM really only cares about the bottom line, not settling for the average profit margin of most grocery store chains. And you do it with unscrupulous methodology and by taking advantage of the "team members" you so boldly proclaim to support. Your wages are lower, costs of food higher, insurance coverage pathetic. Your turnover is pretty high for a company who alleges team building.

stonehillady says …

I hope you all understand that Bill Gates owns the major shares of Monsanto now, detirmined to use GMO's any where they can to eliminate the population growth. As you might know ranchers that feed GMO to their herds are experiencing extremely low birth rates due to hormone changes GMO's do to ALL Life.....FDA can't be trusted because they refuse to allow outside testing of GMO's other then from the Chemical &amp; Drug Industry, which are ALL BEHIND the money made from treating illnesses that GMO's cause &amp; to sell more chemicals &amp; Drugs. Monsanto just lost a case to a French farmer who developed a serious nerve disease from using Chemicals made by Monsanto on his crops &amp; he actually WON his case....! Folks, it seems our Government is NOT for what is good &amp; safe to eat &amp; drink but, has taken this nation into total Fascism for the corporation world who want to eliminate the world's population by making us slowly die off &amp; make profit at the same time managing our ills with even more drugs. I hope Whole Foods stays in the fight to deliever food in it's purest State &amp; fights the Evil of those that want to literally kill us slowly &amp; make money in the process.

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