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Introducing the Non-GMO Project

Non GMO Project Why am I grinning ear-to-ear on this steamy hundred-degree day in the middle of Texas? The reason is this press release, which announces our commitment to the Non-GMO Project and represents the culmination of a very long and complicated undertaking. I've been working on this project - helping the company come up with a way to truly verify our efforts to avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in our private label products - for just over five years, and it would be an understatement to say that I'm ecstatic about this announcement. I'd even go so far as to say that this moment makes me extremely optimistic about the future of our food supply and the persistence, energy and integrity of the natural and organic food visionaries who propel our industry forward. What's a GMO? It's simple: scientists combine the DNA of a plant with the DNA of something else and create a novel organism that has heretofore not existed in nature. PlaneThe companies who make and sell the bioengineered crops will tell you all about the "exciting potential" of these crops to end hunger and create radical new super-nutritious foods. In reality, the GMO crops currently approved and marketed in the United States do one of two things: (1) make their own pesticides or (2) resist herbicides, so that farmers can spray an entire field with a strong chemical herbicide and kill everything but the GMO crop. Most of the U.S. corn, soy, canola and cotton is grown using one of these two technologies. Why do we care? Among Americans who are even aware that there are GMOs in the food supply (less than 50%, according to one study), prevailing beliefs about GMOs range from "They'll save the universe" to "They're utter toxic poison." The topic is obviously very controversial, but what Whole Foods Market knows for certain is that our customers have told us very clearly that they'd like to avoid GMOs in their food. In fact, in a poll we conducted just last month, more than 80% of those we surveyed said they would seek out non-GMO products with clear labeling and would be willing to pay more for these products. Bioengineering of food is, for many, simply inconsistent with the very basic idea of natural food. We're drawing a very important line in the sand and supporting shoppers looking to avoid GMOs. What's the Non-GMO Project? Early on in this initiative, we realized that we couldn't do this alone. Creating a standard and a program to verify products as avoiding GMOs would take an incredible level of technical expertise, and it would take the participation and commitment of other retailers, food makers, certifiers and growers in order to even get off the ground. About three years ago, we learned about a group of retailers who shared our concerns about GMOs and were already working on the issue, as we were. They had formed a non-profit organization called the Non-GMO Project. The tenacity and energy of these early supporters - Good Earth Natural Foods, The Natural Grocery Company, The Big Carrot Natural Food Market, and others - gave the Non-GMO Project its start, and we were happy to join the project as a founding leader, along with a number of other natural food companies. Learn more about the Project's early history here. With the incredible leadership and technical expertise of our Board of Directors and Technical Advisory Board, we created a standard and a system for keeping GMOs as far from the natural food industry as possible. How will this affect my life as a shopper? You'll start to see the "Non-GMO Project Verified" seal on products in our store starting this fall. We are going to enroll our house brands - 365 Every Day Value and Whole Foods Market - in the project. In fact, a few products are already verified. A number of other manufacturers, including Eden Foods, Nature's Path Organic and Lundberg Family Farms, have also had products verified under the standard. You can see the full list on the Non-GMO Project website. CottonSince they were first introduced, GMO crops have expanded continually so that they now make up an astonishingly large portion of American agriculture, and we know that they're just plain inconsistent with what we and the people who shop with us want. The Non-GMO Project's success is critical to the continued availability of non-GMO products in the U.S., and we hope you'll join us in showing your support. Consider signing up for the Project's Consumer Pledge and becoming a fan on Facebook to stay up-to-date. To other retailers and food makers reading this, visit the site to learn how you can support the Non-GMO Project as well. Our success depends on the support of retailers, food makers, growers, shoppers and everyone with an interest in keeping natural food natural. Join us!

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91 comments

Comments

Melissa Rasmussen says …

Thank you so much for hearing our voices! I want to know what I am putting in my children's bodies and GM foods scare me!

See says …

Yessssss!

Donna Marzolf says …

All of your efforts toward having a GMO free and therefore safer products, especially produce is vital. Thank you!

Joanne says …

In addition to GMO's being sprayed liberally with pesticides, another issue is that the new genes being added to the plant genes may have come from other living organisms like fish or bacteria. This is different than simply selective breeding within a plant species. This is creating new life forms. There is a question of whether this could harm human health via allergies or worse for few or many. Thank you, Whole Foods Market, for giving your customers a choice.

JESSICA MILLER says …

I ALWAYS buy non-gmo whenever possible. What a great project!

Rebecca says …

Yeah, i am so happy to know i can buy your products without wondering if Monsanto has gotten to it first...rm

Stan says …

You guys seem to be making the right moves these days. First, the emphasis on locals, then the little budget-minded newsletter and coupons, and now this. So yes, I'd steer towards non-GMOs too. Gotta pry Monsanto, Cargill, ADM etc. away from our food supply. People shouldn't sacrifice their health so as to "increase shareholder value" for these cynical companies. Now if only you'd bring back the chilly lobster playpens. C'mon. You know they just love to tumble and play in there! (probably not...I just like lobster)

Donna M says …

Thanks, I shop almost exclusively at Whole Foods, and I'm afraid that even here I'm exposed to GMO foods and Chinese imports. I will appreciate seeing non-gmo-verified labels!

Jean says …

I am happy to hear your news. I do all my shopping at Whole Foods and am always looking for non-gmo. This makes it a little easier. Thank You Whole Foods!

Anna Krengel says …

Thank you so much for insuring that our food is NOT genetically modified!!!!

Gail Dawson says …

Bravo to you for labeling non-GMO foods. I don't want to eat any GMO foods if I don't have to. My concern is not necessarily safety, but the politics of GMO foods and the horrible things that companies such as Monsanto have done to permanently change the food supply of farmed foods, such as patenting seeds if they did nothing to create them or change them. It is an outrage what they have done. Thank you again. Sincerely, Gail Dawson

David Dinner says …

Congratulations to Whole Foods. Definitely a positive step in the right direction. Now let's work to filter out non organic foods disguised as "natural" and/or set standards regarding what natural means.

Elizah Leigh says …

Way to go, Whole Foods -- this is another fantastic step in the right direction. Only within the last year did I begin to investigate GMOs and what all of the hullaballoo was about. After researching them at great length, I realized that they're like a ticking time bomb. We really have no clue what they might do to our bodies, but agri giants like Monsanto have made it mainstream in the US...meanwhile, GMOs have been banned abroad for many years. Why is it that our government gives the thumbs up on all sorts of frankenfood experiments in favor of profits? Now, we can't even trust the USDA label anymore: http://www.greenwala.com/community/blogs/all/1237-Organic-Labeling-Are-We-Paying-A-LOT-MORE-For-A-Lot-Less I am really interested to hear what everyone else thinks about GMOs in our food and what their solution is now that we're learning that organic labeling standards are lax at best. This group discussion topic was recently launched over at Greenwala (an online green social network) -- it would be great if someone here added their perspective. http://www.greenwala.com/my_groups/all/104-GREEN-INTO-ACTION-A-THINK-TANK-TO-IMPLEMENT-REAL-WORLD-CHANGES/topics/455

Betty Blau says …

Thank you for enlightening me about GMO. I wasn't aware of this and I will be looking for the foods that have the labeling no GMO's. Im estatic as well knowing that someone is dedicated to our wholesomeness of eating healthy foods. Sincerely, Betty Blau

Diane says …

That's great! Fantastic! Thanks to Monsanto, I'm afraid to buy any corn product that is not organic. I'll only buy corn on the cob from Whole Foods. I wish more stores were as conscientious as you. Now open a Whole Foods in the Libertyville Illinois area so It's not so difficult to get to one!!

Sonja Madlinger says …

I just saw Foood Inc. and am very excited that the non GMO foods will be labeled. I have been concerned about eating GMO modified foods for quite some time. This should give all of us another reason the shop at Whole Foods....I will spread the good news! THANKS!

Pat says …

This is really good news. I have shared this information with the people at work because I feel it is soooooooo important. I'm glad someone is 'really' looking out for us. Thank you,

ariella says …

this is great!

Paul Hamb says …

Hi. Can a product be "GMO" and Organic ?

Denise says …

This is a great start but we should get the U.S. government involved now that it is run by President Obama and the Democratic majority Congress. We have to undo what the Bush administration did/permitted during his 8 years in office.

lee.kane says …

I'm a WFM Team Member and want to comment on Clarisa's wish that there be no GMO's at all in our product mix. While I'm sure that many (including myself) wish that that were the case,the sad reality is that GMO's have already penetrated the food supply so deeply in this country that most of the shelves in all of our supermarkets would be bare if that were so. The best thing any of us can do at this point is to vote with our wallets/pocketbooks by buying organic foods,and especially those with the "Non-GMO-Certified" seal. Also, to raise our voices and make our demands known by signing the Pledge and following Joe's other suggestions, above. Hearty congratulations and appreciations to all of the partners of the Non-GMO Project for their incredible wisdom, passion and commitment!

Bonnie says …

bravo to you...

Clarisa says …

I am uncertain what changes you will be making. It is my understanding that Whole Foods currently sells products that may have been manufactured with GMO crops, and are unable (unwilling) to disclose which ones may come from Monsanto seed (among others). I really hope this project goes forward, and that at some point Whole Foods is able to say that none of their products come from GMO's. There is little good in WF labeling a few products GMO free, and for the rest of the WF inventory to contain GMO's.

HK says …

Whole Foods - you are the leaders in this area and we need you to initiate and take action. Thank you for doing this!

says …

Paul: The USDA Organic Standards prohibit organic producers from using GMOs and GMO seeds, but unfortunately, due to pollen drift and other types of contamination, even organic products can have very small amounts of GMO contamination. The Non-GMO Project will help organic growers avoid and minimize this contamination.

says …

Lee, great suggestions! And sincere thanks to everyone for your messages of support. It's very validating to hear that you agree we're doing the right thing on this issue.

Linda says …

I applaude the commpany's efforts in this Non-GMO Project! It will make shopping much more convenient. I was very happy to find out that you do not carry GMO produce as checking all the UPC codes for "8" I hate. Now I have another reason to love Whole Foods. Thank you!

Cheryl Creech says …

I would like to thank Whole Foods for taking on this important project. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer more than 6 years ago, I searched everywhere for GMO-free products and antibotic/hormone free meats in an effort to detox his body and try to undo the damaged done by years of consuming these products. Unfortunately, it was too little; too late for him to fight and win his battle. Today, I still search for these item and purchase them for my own. I have been a customer of Whole Foods since your store opened in my city and look for your stores when traveling. Thank you, again, for undertaking this project and I will continue supporting Whole Foods in future efforts. Cheryl Creech Columbus, OH

season says …

hooray!!! this is a huge step forward, and i will be happy to pass the news along to everyone i know. well done, WF; i hope the project is a total success! sb in kc

Mary says …

This is a great step in the right direction, Whole Foods. I'm a consistent shopper in your stores all over the country, but I have been somewhat disappointed by all the "Conventional" fruits and veggies you sell. Conventional produce has been exposed to any or all of the following: pesticides, chemical fertilizer, hormones, genetic engineering, and sewage sludge. Why not strictly ORGANIC! Congratulations on joining the Non-GMO project and please, please, please stick to ORGANIC ONLY!! Thanks!

Nigel Rudlin says …

Hello. As a person who follows the GMO news,including pertinent and pending legislation, and all efforts by big AG and the pharmaceutical to ruin and control the food supply, terminator seeds..etc.. I received a document from a physician friend of mine Dr Micah Hale MD, who insisted that I share with as many people as possible. Its official: Informed Doctors are warning their patients to avoid GMO's.. You will find this link very informative. http://blogs.healthfreedomalliance.org/blog/2009/07/01/doctors-warn-avoid-genetically-modified-food-2/

Anita says …

I hope to see non-GMO labels soon. Because foods labeled "certified organic" only have to be 95% organic, I am always worried that they contain some gmo food like soy lecithin for example. What a rip to spend so much on "organic" food only to be dooped into eating things I don't want in my body.

Shari says …

Yea!! You made my day. :)

Eric says …

Hi, I became aware of using Non-GMO products in waching the movie Food, Inc.-I'm definitely a supporter of this endeavor! Thank you!

Bryan A says …

Does anyone have any reliable (non-biased) literature on if non-GMO foods are more beneficial than conventional foods??

Heidi says …

Thank you for this work Whole Foods - it's greatly appreciated. I only recently became aware of the GMO issue in foods, and was appalled by what I learned - even about some of the tactics employed by companies by Monsanto to contaminate organically grown produce. You have my deepest thanks and regards for doing something like this for the concerned shopper, and I hope you continually go forward in your endeavors to provide us with healthy untouched food. I used to do all of my shopping at ShopRite, but I now travel the extra 15 minutes just to go to your store for my food to ensure that my family is eating the safest food possible.

Be The Solution Foundation says …

This is excellent!!! Keep up the good and honest work Whole Foods!!! You really know your customers well. Thank you so much for doing this! ;D

Merilynn Norell says …

I am a former employee of Whole Foods and am proud to be so. This is a company that truly lives it's mission statement. I am aware of the effects of GMO products and WILL NOT consume anything containing seeds that have been altered in this way. I am so pleased that Whole Foods have taken yet another issue under their umbrella in changing the world. It is companies like this that will make a difference for the next generation. Thank you for all you do for people, the environment and the world.

Cindy says …

Excellent! Thanks for taking the lead, despite no government requirements to do so. Will you be offering your non-GMO products in Canada also? We have two Whole Foods in the metro Vancouver, BC area.

Vicki says …

I just want to be sure I understand correctly, the Whole Foods 365 brand does not contain any GMO's, but whole Foods stores do sell other items containing GMO's....?? I hate to think of the myriad of packaged products containing corn and soy that are for sure genetically modified. I was happy to know Whole Foods will not sell anything with hydrogenated fat, maybe this same rule should apply to GMO's. I think you'd be eliminating a lot of products and halting their production. NOw there's an idea!

peter pratt says …

i wish whole foods would indicate if a product is gmo. For example corn in the fresh produce? Is it gmo or is it not?

Dmitriy Zasyatkin says …

I am so happy to hear that Whole Foods is committed to keeping food natural. We just watched "The Future of Food" documentary the other night and it really opened up our eyes to the state of the food industry. Thank you Whole Foods.

Barbara says …

Thanks so much for all your hard work... one more step for mankind!!!

Kathy says …

I'm responding to Anita's question if organic foods can contain GMOs and according to the Center for Food Safety, if a product contains any oganic product it has to be 100% GMO free.

Sheila says …

It's January 2010 now. I don't see products marked non-GMO in my Santa Fe Whole Foods and I go there 1 to 2 times per day to eat. How about starting with not using canola oil as a substitute for more expensive oils or butter in your prepared foods. 90% of canola oil is from GMO seeds. Same with anything made from soybean crops (90% GMO grown) including soy sauce, tofu, edamame, soybean oil, soy milk, etc. I see a lot of prepared/hot bar/baked goods products made with these oils or fructose, palm oil, and corn oil. It's getting tough to find anything to eat that doesn't have that stuff in eat. Brown rice is usually a safe bet.

Carole says …

In addition to labeling, what about just not selling GMO foods? I think we've seen enough studies showing that GMOS are not good for humans or animals.

Bob says …

It is refreshing and reassuring to know you people understand the need for quality all natural products that are also affordable. GMO crops are far worse than any consumer knows right now. I will guarantee this becomes a much bigger issue than the trans fats issue. It's sad that these big corporations like Monsanto are only concerned with profits and not the well being of the general public. Thank you Whole Foods for your commitment to this major issue.

mike says …

I never want to buy any type of gmo product! Thank You for fighting this!

Denise Hanse says …

I justed saw "Food, Inc." on PBS and it made me sick. I shop almost exclusively at Whole Foods. Can't wait to see GMO-free products in my store. Keep up the good work, and thank you.

Terrie says …

Thank you for the info and for providing so many clean eating choices. After watching Food,Inc I have decided to 'retake my plate' and I do not mind paying more at the cash register because in terms of health (mine and the health of the planet) buying non-gmo and seeking out organic is worth the money and effort. I am plan to vote with my dollar and to spread the word to family and friends. Keep up the great work.

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