Whole Story

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

june beallor says …

Dear Whole Foods, We have started a movement to get whole foods to stop carrying GMO products - I suggest you guys step up to the plate as this movement will grow and it will hit your pocketbooks. It is also sad that you carry foods that are grown with systemic pesticides.

No Monsanto says …

It's unfortunate, all these comments from people who are taking Whole Foods' word as if they have no intention of covering their own asses. Notice they haven't officially stated that they do not do business with Monsanto. There's a ton of information about Monsanto and even Whole Foods at http://MonsantoBoycott.com

Topher says …

Vote with your wallet, people. If WF and many other markets sold only non-GMO... they'd be the ones out of business, not Monsanto. Since products with GMO are NOT yet labeled - find the ones that are labeled non-GMO (i.e. non-GMO Verified Project). That simple. Thanks WF for making us more aware, and kudos for dispelling the rampant rumors.

Jamie says …

To those saying that voluntary non-gmo labels at WF are not enough and that it needs to be mandatory to label the GMO stuff....look do you expect Whole Foods (or even the govt) to slap "contains animal products" (equivalent to "contains GM ingredients") on everything in the store that INST vegan? Or is it perhaps far far far more reasonable to expect vegans and vegan companies to self-label their products as "Vegan" or "contains no animal products" (equivalent to voluntary "non-gmo" labeling). For those who dont know animal products on the ingredient label can be just as ambiguous as GMO ingredients. If a label says "soy" u dont know if its GM or not unless you call the company and ask. Similarly if the label says "lactic acid" or "mono-diglycerides" you cant be sure if it is animal or vegetable derived unless you call and ask. The people who have fears of GMO food need to do what vegans already do, we read labels and call companies about questionable ingredients. We also seek out products made by companies enrolled in voluntary vegan labeling programs. You who have GMO fears can do the same things, the tool already exist. Dont expect the govt to cater to your or ethical concerns, do it yourself. Just do the same amount of work that many other already do.

Andrew Ripley says …

Hey Libba, I've been following the whole GMO debate for a little while. Sorry to hear you guys got rumors about you. It's truly sad to hear some folks are resorting to lies to stir up hysteria and pull at the conspiracy theory heart strings we can all react to. But then again, I guess the entire debate is shrowded with misinformation and this appears to be more of the same. Why they'd attack Whole Foods, I don't know. I love your guys' licorice--it's the best! I just wanted to express my distaste in general for this sort of tactic and thanks for setting the record straight. The worst thing we can do is make false conclusions from bad information--let alone misinformation.

Shelly says …

Can you please explain why Whole Foods' 365 brand Corn Flakes contains "high levels" of GMOs (more than 50% GE corn)? This is very troubling and upsetting. Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/033838_breakfast_cereals_GMOs.html#ixzz1lq4HZPCt

paig292 says …

@Shelly The product tested, 365 Everyday Value Corn Flakes, was discontinued in June 2011 (before these tests came out) and has been replaced with 365 Everyday Value <strong>Organic</strong> Corn Flakes. Because we prefer to source organic grocery products, the conventional product was discontinued and replaced with organic cereal. For a list of the many Non-GMO Project-verified products available at our stores, check your local store’s web site: www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores.

Sammie says …

So glad to know! All this time, ever since hearing the rumor, I have been avoiding the 365 brand. So nice to know I can welcome it back into my home!

Lisa says …

Thank you Whole Foods!!!!! I knew I could count on you to have safe and healthly foods. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!

zyl says …

Thanks for this strong and clear statement. As long as you do not sell any type of any GMO food, I am always a WF customer.

MARIKA LOVE says …

Nature has proved her sustainability by existing for billions of years. In Nature, a rat would never mate with a head of lettuce, or a jellyfish with a potato. In Nature, man made pharmaceuticals, chemicals and pesticides do not exist.Please don't allow these man made poisons to be spliced into natural, whole foods! I don't know whom to believe, and am considering breathairianism.

Me says …

It can be so over whelming sometimes!! It's like there's just too much info out there and who can even be trusted! Heck wish I had a lab in my home to test seed first for gmo and just grow my own food. So many horror mongers on the net:(( Many thanks to you Whole Foods:) PS. I pray before i eat and the Lord knows i would not willingly eat anything that would harm me.

Diane Alexander says …

Wow. I am sooooo relieved. Thanks for keeping your standards high.

Rachel says …

WHY did whole foods stand for coexistence and NOT organic integrity?!?!?! Is it not bad enough that GE foods are NOT labeled but the organics are being polluted! So much that Europe won't even buy American ORGANIC foods!!! Really Whole Foods?!?!?! COEXISTENCE WITH THE PRODUCER OF AGENT ORANGE?!?!?!?! I've been told we cannot petition at Whole Foods for labeling GMO as such because Whole Foods doesn't want to get politically involved my an ASTL but looks like you're taking a stand all right! And there is NO MENTION OF THE COMPENSTATION $$$ RECIEVED FOR THE CARINOGENICS THAT THE ORGANIC FARMERS ARE NOW BEING FORCED TO BE EXPOSED TO!!!

LeaP says …

Oh Thank GOD!!!!!! I was alittle worried, New Vegan here and I only shop with your stores :)

Ellen says …

All of you people who want to believe your precious WF is going to protect you from GMO food- do some research on your own. You don't have to dig very deep. Here's one article by By Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association. There are plenty more articles from reputable sources like this one. http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/organic-elite-surrenders-to-monsanto/

David says …

I hadn't heard any of these rumors. I'm more concerned with Wholefoods selling Chinese food products (even "organic" edamame...)Other chains such as Trader Joe's do not sell Chinese food products because of the well-documented safety issues. You can't source organic edamame (soybeans)in the US? Really? I've worked and traveled extensively in Asia, and anything "organic" coming from China is implausabl.e, to say the least

Joss Thomas says …

Whole Foods Market, while proclaiming their support for organics and “seed purity,” gave the green light to USDA bureaucrats to approve the “conditional deregulation” of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant alfalfa. Beyond the regulatory euphemism of “conditional deregulation,” this means that WFM and their colleagues are willing to go along with the massive planting of a chemical and energy-intensive GE perennial crop, alfalfa; guaranteed to spread its mutant genes and seeds across the nation; guaranteed to contaminate the alfalfa fed to organic animals; guaranteed to lead to massive poisoning of farm workers and destruction of the essential soil food web by the toxic herbicide, Roundup; and guaranteed to produce Roundup-resistant superweeds that will require even more deadly herbicides such as 2,4 D to be sprayed on millions of acres of alfalfa across the U.S.

Nicola says …

Thanks so much to dismantle this lie about Wholefoods , i've worked for your company , and i knew that it'isnt true what the mass-media are releasing about the Company . Best Regards Nicola

Jer says …

I am a shareholder too. It is critical for all Whole Foods to label all products that contain GMOs or GMO ingredients. And I hope the company takes action on this right away.

Jeri says …

A useful documentary to see to educate yourself on why GMOS are bad "The World According To Monsanto." You can watch on line for free: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-world-according-to-monsanto/

Jed Zimmerman says …

People on Facebook are up at arms at Whole Foods deceptive practice of calling something Organic under your 365 label and come to find out it is a product of China. No one in their right mind believes China even knows what Organic is. This is deceptive advertising that will come back to bit you. Organic to consumers in the US has to do with US standards and no one else. Thank you

Mary says …

SO NONE OF THIS IS TRUE? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronnie-cummins/the-organic-elite-surrend_b_815346.html

Marti says …

My only problems with your answers are, first of all, why didn't you take a more hard-line stance against Monsato and GMOs at the meeting with the US Secretary of Agriculture and why do you allow any products with GMOs in your store? We depend on you to have the best quality food around. It would be nice to have one place where I don't have to spend so much time reading the ingredient label and have confidence in everything I buy there.

Tina says …

I read the article from OCA and it said nothing about Monsanto buying WF. Not sure where people got that from besides rumor. However, you bailed on the organic farmers and that is what pissed me off. You are a big enough company to really make a difference and speak for your customers who support organic and especially local. This is what you say you stand for but you didn't even put up a fight. Rolling over is why this country is still in such a mess, no one will do the dirty work. Shame on you for being such a hypocrite.

Mary says …

please. damage control!

Charley says …

The Redmond store is not closing, I work at wf in Seattle, Redmond and Bellevue. Don't worry, we will stay and continue to serve your community!

Jim says …

Better than reported. Thanks.

Carla says …

I am glad to read this and get a clear statement from Whole Foods themselves. I support Whole Foods even if I have to cut out other luxuries in order to continue to afford a wholesome lifestyle for myself and my family. We travel almost weekly (sometimes Every two weeks) a little over an hour just to get to Whole Foods. So hearing this makes it all the more worth the waste in gas, time, money, and of course our dedication to shop there...

K Hiatt says …

"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." When you deny that you haven't recently decided to sell GMO foods, does that mean you've been selling them all along since they've always been in the food supply? Aren't you just denying that the decision was made recently? Does Whole foods sell GMO products or not? That's what people want to know...

Stacy says …

This makes me so happy! Keep the GMO out of our food supply! I went into my local Whole Food's today and asked these questions as I saw an article that made me sick, and the man in the produce department was very helpful and explained to me that the story was completely false! SO glad to know that we can still count on you Whole Food's for clean food!

Caryl says …

This states what Whole Foods didn't or hasn't done, but what DID WF do with regards to Monsanto. Please state the entire story so that the information you ate providing is clear. I have many friends and neighbors who work in the corporate offices of Whole Foods - in Austin. I shop at the mother ship store no less than 8-10 times A WEEK. If you can't be completely truthful about what's going on I can't give you my money. There is a certain responsibility that WF has to its customers- from the food and goods that you sell and what you claim is in them and not and where they come from - in reality WF is no different than any other chain of grocery stores. With the acceptions of your prices over theirs. I am 100% willing to pay more for organic, clean, healthy, chemically free food. Prove you haven't made a deal with the devil. Until then, farmers markets here I come. Peace.

Brian S says …

When I fist heard of this back in 2010, I was shocked. I've been in the anti-GMO movement for well over 15 years and this "news" took me aback for a moment. I had been a shopper at Whole Foods for a very long time and I could not believe my ears. Now, being one to research the hell out of EVERYTHING to the n'th degree, I decided to hold judgment until I was able to do a massive amount of research on this, however, and this is a very big however… I could best describe how this hit me as though, let's say, you're in a 30 year relationship with a woman/man, and you hear from a best friend of that person that your love has been cheating on you. While deep in your heart of hearts, you know this may not be true, it still hits you like a freight train and it's THAT very point where, if you don't get some proof over a set period of time that the message is not true, it will, then, be accepted as truth to a degree of varying measure. Therefore, Whole Foods, I have to be honest with you, I put much of the blame on you for this rumor metastasizing into an almost malignant tumor, and here's why (and I can say this confidently because I've been in Advertising &amp; Marketing for 20 years with big firms around the PR industry, so I know a thing or two about how PR works): 1: I had not seen one iota of fight from you when this rumor first started, and it was WIDELY publicized, so there's no way you could not have known about it, especially since you posted that letter from your CEO on your website immediately afterwards. 2: Knowing that you knew this rumor had started, you didn't do ANY massive outreach against this rumor OR GMO's on a national level, no media, no TV, no radio, no social media; WF did nothing big to thwart this. 3: Knowing that you spend a lot of money on your marketing, I can only blame you that you didn't realize that something like this would grow into a massive tumor. Whomever your marketing and PR people are, and even management, I'd fire them for not stepping up and fighting to make this a TOP priority on your agenda for smashing the rumor. 4: Still, as of this point, you've done nothing major to thwart this, and again, simply post a letter on your website. Whole Foods, you started your business son the notion that eating healthy is a way of life to be followed, and this should be your time to stand up and fight harder than ever to prove that, a flurry of punches is coming your way, yet you're running to the corner of the ring in hopes that the opponent will simply give up. You could come out on top and be the bastion of health &amp; wellness, or you can be that wimpy guy who walks around and receives compliments for even stepping into the ring, but behind your back the whisperings &amp; chuckles of getting your rear end beat into oblivion. WF, you've lost a lot in your thinking that this would "just go away" and that the truth would show it's face. People don't want the truth, that's why they watch reality TV, reality to most is whatever they are told it is. So tell it, tell it truthfully, tell it powerfully, and be forthright in doing so! You have everything to gain and nothing to lose, except dollars, which are really worth nothing, after-all.

Cynthia Clemente says …

I do not believe in the above rumors. The moment I see it in facebook..i hide it or deleted the posting. Whole Foods mission statement includes feeding the world with healthy food...how can Whole Foods be in the same sentence as Monsanto, which alter the natural food with GMO? I thin the people from Monsanto themselves are starting this ridiculous rumor.

Becky Cortino says …

TY for this update and putting this misinformation to rest. I can't imagine how anyone could think GMO/Monsanto buyout was true, with the Whole Foods' company philosophy and approach. I think the greater good will be served when we all focus our efforts on GMO-labeling issues. Glad to know more about Whole Foods' Non-GMO Project verification program -- thank you! Standing for truth in labeling http://www.JustATasteHurts.com

Reese says …

So, to be clear, you have always carried products that contain GMOs because they are so widespread, yes? And I have to point out that just because something is registered with the Non-GMO project doesn't mean it doesn't contain GMO's, it can mean the company is committed to taking steps in that direction is all, yes? So your 365 products are sourced to avoid GMO's but you were not clear as to whether or not they actually contain them. It sounds like you don't entirely know and it's totally possible.

Charla says …

Everyone is a critic and so quick to tell you what you should or should not do. I just want to say Thank You for clarifying the truth behind these rumors. Keep up the good work you are doing. We love to shop at Whole Foods and will continue to do so knowing that your goal is in line with our goals for safe, healthy food choices.

kamila says …

What I believe is that they are products that Whole Foods carry that contain GMO, that is why they recommend to buy organic which by law can't carry GMO.

Lisa says …

To be clear ~ the 365 value brand (non-organic) products DO NOT have GMOs. The product I am specifically thinking of is the cheese puffs (which are corn-based).

paig292 says …

@Lisa It's best to check the list of Non-GMO products for your stores. All of our 365 Everyday Value products are enrolled with the Non-GMO Project and many have already received their verfication. Other products take more time for the Non-GMO Project to do their verification work. I'm asking specifically about the cheese puffs and will let you know what I find out. Enter your store info on this page http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/ then scroll down the left navigation to the "Non-GMO Verified Products List." Thanks.

L Baugh says …

Thanks so much.

Adam says …

85% of Whole Foods sales are NOT organic, yet they still charge a "premium" price as if they were. The average person mistakes "natural" for "organic". You bank off of this misconception. This is one reason why people are not happy with Whole Foods. The other reason (which you did not address), is the fact that you have announced that your support for "co-existence" between GMO and organic food. This is the reason why people are upset, not any of the rumors you mentioned. Any well-informed individual knows that there can never be co-existence with organic and GMO because GMO crops destroy organic crops. GMO crops cross-pollinate with organic. The herbicides and pesticides like Round Up destroy organic crops. It also destroys soil, rendering farmland useless. Address the real issue, which is that Whole Foods gave their approval of GMOs. This is essentially standing aside and allowing Monsanto to swoop in and rid the world of organic food. But what does Whole Foods care if 85% of their food is non-organic? When there is no more organic food, they will just label everything "natural" and keep charging a premium price as if it were organic, just like the Fresh Market and other "green" food stores.

paig292 says …

@Adam An outright ban on GE alfalfa was never an option in Washington! The USDA presented the industry with only two options that they were considering– deregulation and deregulation with restrictions. Given the pervasive planting of GE crops in the U.S. – 93% of soy, 86% of corn, 93% of cotton and 93% of canola seed planted were genetically engineered in the U.S. in 2010 – the option of an outright ban was not on the table. Whole Foods Market — along with the National Cooperative Grocers Association, the National Organic Coalition, the Organic Trade Association, and other companies and groups — endorsed the path of deregulation with restrictions, or coexistence, not because it was a perfect path, but because it was a path to create meaningful change right now in the regulating of genetically engineered foods and the protection of non-GE foods. We encourage you to follow the links in the post to learn more.

mom said says …

Thanks for the post and clearing the air. I'll share your info.

paig292 says …

@Sangho Lee The best way to ensure that the animals did not receive GMO feed is to purchase organic meats. You can also look for meat from 100% pastured-raised animals. Yes, we are also concerned about BPA and have worked with our suppliers to strongly encourage the transition to non-BPA materials where functional alternatives exist. Check out <a href="http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2010/01/the-fda-changes-its-tune-on-bisphenol-a/" rel="nofollow">this blog post on the details</a> and you can also review <a href="http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/bisphenol-a.php" rel="nofollow">our webpage about BPA</a>.

Dee says …

I never believed any of the rummors! Sure wish you would come to Lakeland, FL and give Publix some competition!!! I hate having to drive an hour to get to a Whole Foods! Dee

Brad Attig says …

WF can do more. Creating a Non-GMO label on the surface seems like a good idea but the burden falls on individuals and small businesses that don't use GMO's and is a specific tactic to increase their operating expenses thus increasing costs to the public. This inevitably works in the favor of the large and close to monopolistic corporations since the cost of bringing GMO products to market relative to non-GMO's will appear even lower. Come on, the vast majority of Americans favor labeling products with GMO's. Most countries in Europe require it. This is a cop-out by WF. Put your market power where it does the most good for your customers. Simple adopt a policy that anything sold in WF that contains GMO's must be labeled as such. Companies complain, buy elsewhere. WF will get more publicity for free than they know what to do with and the resultant firestorm will encourage others to follow. Imagine if Wal-Mart followed suit? Bye-Bye GMO's..... As a result, the cost difference will narrow and with any luck Monsanto's profits will as well. That is how the market takes care of Robber Barons....

ConnieSue Dickinson says …

Sell out is more like it and Whole Foods continues to defend themselves... they started out a wholesome source for good food, they they went big and corporate and greedy http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_24844.cfm

Sangho Lee says …

Thank you for the clarification. My first question is when we eat meat bought from your store, don't we eat GMO indirectly because the animals were fed GMO? My second question is do you promote "Non-BPA" labeling just as you do with "Non-GMO" labeling? Thank you. Sangho Lee

Jackie says …

I think the statement to dispel the rumors was a bunch of BS, probably written out by mansanto.

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