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

jonny says …

Libba...I think the Non-GMO Project is a brilliant illustration of 'leading by example'. Whole Foods should be commended for this effort. But why, with all the well-funded, special-interest-opposition-marketing making the rounds in California, hasn't Whole Foods joined the list of Food Retailers in the endorsement of Prop 37 (the proposition to label GMO foods)? A company of such size and stature as Whole Foods, that, on a national level, claims to have their public's interest NEEDS to continue to lead by example and put its weight behind such a cause which can ultimately have an effect on the entire country. You've heard the adage..."With great power comes great responsibility"...Never a truer word spoken as it relates to this issue. Please clarify your position on Prop 37. For reference, here's a list of current endorsers: http://www.carighttoknow.org/endorsements

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JONNY - Thank you for your comment. You can find a more recent blog post at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/lets-talk-about-gmos-whole-foods-market where we discuss our support for Prop 37.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LEE - We don’t contribute to political campaigns, ballot initiatives, etc. as a policy set by company leadership who recognize that Whole Foods Market represents the viewpoints of a wide variety of customers and other stakeholders. However, we have heard feedback from our customers about finding additional ways to support this important effort and we are currently evaluating what more we can do to help with getting CA Prop 37 passed. Stay tuned to our blog post at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/lets-talk-about-gmos-whole-foods-market.

Joey Garcia says …

Whole Foods ..... I am going to watch what I buy but I'm afraid you will succome to M------- . Eventually I will resort to growing our own vegetables etc. I really am sadden by this news but this news will make us more aware of what gmo's you will be carrying!

Tony says …

If you are whole foods why not Just ban all gmos from your stores?

Margot Schmidt says …

A lot of your ready made food, including bakery items don't have organic labeing, should I assume there are GMO ingredients in most everything? Including fresh baked bread? :(

John Dingler, artist says …

Hi Libba, Whole Foods sells GMOs so, when you say that it does not sell GMOs, you are lying. Refund the money you charge for the non-GMO foods, donate $10 mil to Prop 37, and label all non-GMO foods -- even if the product contains only one GMO ingredient -- with a label saying "Non-GMO."

Jas says …

I only have one question. Do you and have you, EVER sold what would reasonably be considered GMO foods in your store?

Leann Christenson says …

I am trusting in Whole Foods to be 100% honest about GMO foods. Regretfully, there are products at Whole Foods that are suspect. Whole Foods, please, please, please be vigilant about GMO foods. As a consumer I can only be informed to the extent that I have time to be informed. As a consumer, I "avoid" GMO foods. I rely on your company's integrity and morality to go beyond "avoid" and to be sure you are selling me non-GMO foods. "Avoid" is not a strong enough word when it comes to corporate integrity.

Jay says …

You seem to have lack of support for gmo labeling so I will never ever shop at your stores.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JAY - We do support the labeling of GMO products. Check out our more current blog post on the support of Prop 37: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/lets-talk-about-gmos-whole-foods-market.

chelsea says …

i will NEVER shop at Whole Foods if they secretly start adding GMOs....by the way, do you know what "natural flavor" is in all the food??????

Jim M says …

Nikki - you say WF supports non-GMO, but WF does not do enough with the fire power they have. Your stores state that they have done the homework so that we (the customers) don't have to. Well that's not the case. You knowingly sell GMO products that are clearly GMO. You could remove at least some GMO products. You could place signs. Let's call it what it is... the bottom line is that doing this will hurt you economically and your stock price as you cut ties with vendors that source your GMO products. It's always about the money and spinning words so finely to make customers think you are 100% on their side. I like you guys, but I am disappointed on your "sitting on the fence" stance.

Margaret says …

I think since the customers of Whole Foods assume you are providing full disclosure regarding the products you sell; you should assume the leadership role in banning GMOs and ensure that customers know if the foods they are purchasing were produced with GMOs.

Rosalee says …

Why are you against Proposition 37 in California? Any protection from GMO is better than none. If you are for healthy foods, you should be supporting it.

Vanessa says …

I am totally in agreement with Jim M! Stop being lead and become the leader. What loss you have in the GMO providers could lead to more customers shopping at WF. If I know I can go in and get everything I need from WF w/o an afterthought I would sol

DONALD YARBROUGH says …

I AM HAPPY TO SEE THIS

carmen strating says …

If you read Natural News.com you will get the whole story. Whole Foods Market sells GMO foods and they call it organic

Marc says …

With the mentality, "you either for us or against us" is how we tend to look at the risks of gmo, know and yet to be known, so when you adopt the mentality of siding on the side of safty instead the side of risk, then its easy to see how a rumer like this gets started, i mean if your supporting gmo products by selling them then you are kind of on the same level as monsanto, and quite frankly, perspectively speaking, its not a big leap to say that you're bought put by monsanto. Its all the same to me, but still i know better than to stop buying some great stuff form WF, im just not going to support GMO, virtually a science on the same level as quackery, considering the very nature of understaning the intriqicies of mother nature. Im going to go outside to punch a tree,

Yes on Prop 37 says …

Yes on Prop 37! Prop 37 empowers us to make the right choice for our families, by providing a simple label to tell us if our food has been genetically engineered or not. People have the right to know what poison are in the food that you're selling on your store shelves They are the ones spending much more money buying foods that they have believed was healthy but is not. Therefore, why spend money thinking that they are getting a healthy quality when they are not? Why not just buy the food at walmart. Of course this is the reason why you've kept it a secret you don't want to lose customers. Guess what you've lost a customer and I will let all my friends know whom shop at your store how's that?

Clair says …

You need to inform buyers that your 365 products from from Asia

Meryl says …

How do we REALLY know. This "rumor" was mentioned on the Bill Maher show last week. Who can we really believe? Don't mean to be a sceptic (originally from NYC).

Diana Miller says …

Thank you for clarifying things. I had heard the rumor about Monsanto buying Whole Foodsand I was horrified. Thank goodness it isn't true.

Kristen McQuade says …

Yah!!!!! I am sooooooo happy!!!!! Skipping!!!! Yelling for joy!!!!!!

Alphy Beale says …

Interesting, I heard it on the news about a year ago that Monsanto bought whole foods. I live in Wichita, KS.

Roxanne Marchese says …

I just posted this great news on Facebook. I think it would be great if everyone else would to get the word out.

Ali Niksejel says …

I live in Las Vegas Nevada and I have been coming to wholefoods for 7 years now. The owner John Mackey said that he knowingly sells gmo products in whole foods from Monsanto. What are you guys doing? Lying to your consumers will be disaster and I'm not going to shop there ever. I'm going to tell my friends as everyone I know not to trust wholefoods establishment.

annie says …

"MYRTLE SAYS ... Regarding #3 - It is true, however, that WFM DOES sell food with GMO's. Aside from products labelled organic or WFM brand, any food in the store could contain GMO ingredients. I think this is an important distinction to make." my comment? i can walk into the WF here in asheville and pick up any number of packaged or "fresh-made" goods and find traces of gm ingredients. not eve the hot food is labeled as containing GM.. pulleeeze!! if you are so upfront about this all, why are theses foods not labeled? you and monsanto are in the same bed, maybe not financially, but in collusion to hide the real truth of the proliferation of Gm in our foods. i bet your business would benefit if such actions were to be taken.

Judy Doeppel says …

I have shopped at your store since you bought Mrs. Gooches in Hermosa Beach. I want to know what products are from Monsanto Seeds. ANY. Including Meat products that eat Monsanto Corn and more.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JUDY - Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, we cannot say which items come from GMO seeds as each and every ingredient in every product would have to be tested. Due to the prevalence of the GMOs in the commodity grain market, and the limited availability of verified non-GMO feed, we cannot require the use of only non- GMO feed for animal products (including meat, dairy and farmed fish) sold in our stores. We encourage shoppers who are looking to avoid products from animals fed GMOs to choose organic meat and dairy products (since organic standards prohibit the intentional use of GMOs). I hope this helps.

joanne says …

I have shopped whole foods for years, however, since I have seen organic fruits from Mexico (agent Orange mexico) there is NOTHING Organic in Mexico. Whole Foods is lying to it's customers regarding foods from Mexico. I also, see meat from mexico Scary!!! The american people will have an increase in Blood diseases and Leukemia thanks to the FDA TURNING THEIR BACKS ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

Kristen says …

I have to say how disappointed I was when i met a friend for lunch at Whole Foods, Kahala on Oahu in Hawaii. I had great expectations we were going to have a nice lunch but left without finding what I was looking for. I asked 5 different employees if they could help me find an organic non GMO lunch to go. I not only couldn't find any Organic options with help, NONE of the employees had any clue as to what GMO even was. They all told me the food was "all natural" but when asked to define the meaning of all natural they were as stumped as I was. Needless to say I left with out making a purchase because I was unable to find any prepared foods that were non GMO and Organic. Im disappointed because of my expectations I guess but really I thought a company like whole foods would HELP the public avoid GMO foods and support local organic farmers. I was very much mistaken.

Chris says …

California's Prop 37, WOULD have helped us little people who care about our bodies being infiltrated with GMO's. However it was defeated 53-47, so it is those representatives you can thank (not to mention the misled and misinformed CA voters who went to the polls in November). Is the labeling of GMO's fight over? No. Was that a heavy and significant blow? Absolutely. The very reason WFM opened it's doors was to give customers the option to avoid crap food. Now, it seems, like every other corporation that is around so long they forget why they're in business, WFM is money hungry and do not care about the rising cancer rate this country is seeing (most of which is atributed to food); plain and simple. They do not care about what goes into your body, though the only thing they would have to do is suspend the opening of a few stores or even close a few to put money aside for an initiative that would label each and every product that enters their doors as GMO or Non-GMO themselves (not the food, but the shelves they're on. Nothing against the rules about that. And guess what, if a food company decides not to sell to WFM because they label their shelves, fine, we don't want companies in WFM like that anyways). WFM, you've lost your way, and this post goes to show you're willing to do nothing about it. Monsanto and the U.S. government has won! Monsanto has killed our crops, and the government won't label. Do the math.

Laura says …

Is it true that Trader Joe's does not sell any GMO foods and if so why don't you do the same. You have to be careful of your image, I shop at your store all the time and have been losing trust in your products. You don't always label place of origin, even when its only one ingredient. I was told its because you don't know where you will get the ingredient. But I feel you should put a temporary sticker stating place of origin, I thought that was the law. I quess theres always a way to bypass it.

Michael Bauce says …

WF should be ashamed. Perhaps Monsanto is not buying them out, but they are in bed with the WF corporate office. WF refuses to disclose what's GMO in their stores. When asked, they respond that the labeling laws didn't pass, so they're not responsible. They thrive in murkiness.

Trish says …

Whole Foods, why don't you just label the 365 products that are GMO free? Why ask customers to visit individual Whole Foods websites to check the product list? GMOs are insidious. I get that. But, adding a labyrinth of lists, labels, sections (not to mention constantly changing your product selection) just does not help. It's just easier to shop somewhere else and the whole concept is catching on elsewhere as well.

Wendy Olson says …

Why Wait till 2918? fpr WHole Foods Store Labeling of GMOs? Seems like a ploy to consumers concerned about GMOS and a nod to Monsanto. How about supporting All GMO labeling Now, and soon a complete Ban of GMOs in our Country, Like all the Other Developed Nations?????? We Will Not Be The Guinea Pigs Of the Bio Tech Corporations!!!!!!!!

Concerned Human says …

Whole Foods, You do understand what the word "heal" means do you not? In case you don't, it means "To make whole." By using the name Whole Foods you insinuate to the public that the products in your store heal you. So you feel you can proudly say, "YES some do." And guess what...others you sell poison the American people you portend to care so much about. Hippocracy. I understand that there has been an established market that has been poisoning the people of this country for a long time now. Instead of taking the high road you have stooped quite low. You have used your resources to perpetuate the same fraud. This is why I am an advocate of Trader Joe's where they have made the noble decision to sell 100% Non GMO. Glad to hear you all are putting labels on your poisonous items throughout the next 5 years. I could imagine how many millions of dollars your shareholders and corporate elites would miss out on if you were to discontinue selling those Not-So-Whole Food items.

Jason F says …

I don't know if this is 100% true. I suggest more search into this story. Whole foods is at least in bed with Mostanto. This wouldnt even be thought of as true if the Whole Foods Market chain didn't sell Kellogs brand cereal and the veggables from China that they have neatly labled "organic" is NOT organic. If you didn't know, China never produces organic produce. It's all been testing multiple times and has always failed!!!

Frank Pulieri says …

I have a suggestion, change your name from Whole Foods to GMO Foods for the next 5 years or until you complete your task. Or just remove all the GMO food and keep your name.

Happy Fillmore says …

Im glad to see a business with some damn integrity......I cant say the say about monsanto or even the FDA.....but keep it up whole foods you set the bar!!!!!

Jennifer Bailey says …

Does this mean that you are NOT going to be labelling all the food you carry? I was under the impression that you were going to be labelling all foods that do contain GMO ingredients. Please clarify.

MM says …

Thank you Whole Foods! It is nice to be able to count on you!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JENNIFER - To clarify since this is an older post, we did recently announce that we will be labeling all products in our stores by 2018.

Evan says …

What a relief this is! I'm so glad there is come clarity on the issue now. Thank you Whole Foods for being true to your values.

Gregory Martin says …

I appreciate you guys holding a standard. Although I am only one man, I know many are with me. Keep holding the standard. It IS the new.

Steve says …

Are these statements still true? Thanks. "•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."

Craig Kessinger says …

Many thanks for believing in the difference. Carry on....

Ginnie Bennett says …

I sure hope this is true.

Christopher ODell says …

Thank you for clearing this up and holding to your company's reputation.

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