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Introducing the Non-GMO Project

By Joe Dickson, July 14, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Joe Dickson
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!
Category: Food Issues

 

90 Comments

Comments

Rebecca says ...
Yeah, i am so happy to know i can buy your products without wondering if Monsanto has gotten to it first...rm
07/08/2009 11:09:27 AM CDT
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)
07/08/2009 3:28:13 PM CDT
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!
07/08/2009 3:31:48 PM CDT
Donna Marzolf says ...
All of your efforts toward having a GMO free and therefore safer products, especially produce is vital. Thank you!
07/08/2009 3:33:50 PM CDT
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.
07/08/2009 3:40:35 PM CDT
See says ...
Yessssss!
07/08/2009 4:06:28 PM CDT
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!
07/08/2009 4:08:10 PM CDT
JESSICA MILLER says ...
I ALWAYS buy non-gmo whenever possible. What a great project!
07/08/2009 4:58:59 PM CDT
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
07/08/2009 5:44:03 PM CDT
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!
07/08/2009 7:00:08 PM CDT
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.
07/08/2009 8:58:45 PM CDT
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
07/08/2009 9:30:43 PM CDT
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
07/09/2009 5:18:09 AM CDT
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!!
07/09/2009 8:11:39 AM CDT
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!
07/09/2009 8:26:03 AM CDT
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,
07/09/2009 10:32:14 AM CDT
ariella says ...
this is great!
07/09/2009 11:24:07 AM CDT
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.
07/09/2009 1:30:36 PM CDT
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!
07/09/2009 3:06:41 PM CDT
Bonnie says ...
bravo to you...
07/09/2009 8:06:09 PM CDT
Paul Hamb says ...
Hi. Can a product be "GMO" and Organic ?
07/10/2009 12:41:23 PM CDT
dicksonj 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.
07/10/2009 12:47:59 PM CDT
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.
07/10/2009 12:54:18 PM CDT
kanel 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!
07/10/2009 1:53:29 PM CDT
dicksonj 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.
07/10/2009 2:21:36 PM CDT

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