Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Urgent Action Needed to Support Organics and Non-GE Crops

Update 1/28/11

We are very disappointed in the USDA’s decision to deregulate GE Alfalfa with no conditions (meaning no restrictions to support coexistence). Planting GE alfalfa without restrictions may cause potential contamination of organic and non-genetically engineered crops. Despite this setback, Whole Foods Market will continue to be strong advocates for non-GE foods, their clear labeling and offering them in the marketplace.
If you've read the recent letter from the OCA we highly encourage you to read this as well. It's a wonderful response to the USDA's decision to deregulate GE alfalfa from the Executive Director of The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit multi-stakeholder collaboration committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. http://www.nongmoproject.org/2011/01/29/team-organic-will-never-surrender-to-monsanto-now-we-continue-the-fight-together/
Please read our subsequent blog post about our concerns and read what Samuel Fromartz's says about the fallout on his Chewswise blog.

---------- We hope everyone reading this will consider taking action immediately (click here to act now) to help ensure both organic and non-genetically engineered (GE) agriculture remain viable options in the U.S. We believe farmers have a right to grow foods without fear of contamination from others’ GE crops—and that consumers have a right to make the choice to buy non-GE products. Seven years ago Monsanto petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to deregulate GE alfalfa which would allow it to be planted anywhere. Now, within a few days, the USDA will announce its decision whether to: 1) fully deregulate GE alfalfa OR 2) conditionally deregulate it by placing certain rules and restrictions on growing GE alfalfa that would minimize or limit contamination of non-GE crops (including organic). This second “coexistence” option is what we are rallying for even though we continue to have reservations about GE crops. The issue with GE alfalfa is the potential contamination of organic and non-GE alfalfa, which is used as a mainstay food for organic and non-GE dairy cows, beef cattle and honey bees. While USDA's decision will be specific to GE alfalfa, it will be a precedent-setting decision for how or whether other genetically engineered foods will be regulated far into the future. We applaud the USDA's historic approach considering deregulation with conditions (or coexistence) as one of the options. By recognizing that cross-contamination of GE alfalfa could impact organic and non-GE farmers and consumers, both domestically and for our export markets, the USDA is acknowledging that organic agriculture has the right to not only survive but to thrive alongside conventional agriculture. So, faced with the choice between full deregulation of GE alfalfa or conditional deregulation of it, our best chance at preserving seed purity, and the future of organic and non-GE agriculture now is to fight for every protection available under the USDA’s conditional deregulation coexistence option.

Contact the USDA, the White House and your Congressperson before Monday, January 24th. Tell them non-GE crops should have a seat at the table! True COEXISTENCE is a must. Ask your congressperson to contact House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas to express support for Secretary Vilsack’s coexistence plan. 

If we raise our voices together, we can make a difference. Send this call to action to everyone you know who is concerned about organics and non-GE crops. Post written by Whole Foods Market leaders Walter Robb, co-CEO, and Margaret Wittenberg, Global VP of Quality Standards & Public Affairs.

Background on the GE alfalfa issue

On December 16, 2010, the USDA released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of Monsanto's genetically engineered Roundup Ready Alfalfa. The EIS was conducted in response to a court decision demanding more thorough analysis of the potential environmental, economic and health impacts of GE alfalfa before approving deregulation. The EIS outlines three options for addressing GE alfalfa: 1.    Fully deregulate it (allow it to be planted anywhere) 2.    Fully regulate it (non-production; USDA has indicated this is not an option it would pursue) 3.    Conditionally deregulate it (allow GE alfalfa to be grown with certain rules and restrictions USDA would impose to minimize or limit contamination of non-GE crops) Shortly after releasing the EIS, USDA indicated their preference for the third option and asked the biotech, non-GE and organic communities to convene to try and find common ground for formulating rules and restrictions under conditional deregulation. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack recently invited representatives from agriculture, business and consumer organizations to explore coexistence between non-GE proponents and GE proponents.  It showed refreshing leadership after many years of debate that has cost farmers with contaminated crops in this country millions of dollars in litigation over the years. Our non-GE and organic farmers continue to be concerned with crop contamination and market rejection. Independent studies in the U.S. and in other countries on GE crops have documented a long list of reasons for concern, including evidence that these crops lead to herbicide-resistant super-weeds and require the use of more toxic herbicides. As mentioned above, organic alfalfa is used as feed by most organic and non-GE dairies. Also, the policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. There are rigorous standards in place for USDA-certified organics. We are encouraged that USDA has taken tentative steps and we believe its coexistence plan can support all consumers, farmers and agribusinesses.  We believe true coexistence should include three central issues:

  • The protection of seed purity for all farmers, including organic, so we maintain variety and avoid massive mono-culture;
  • Compensation by the patent holder to the farmer for any losses related to the contamination of his crop; and
  • Public oversight by the USDA rather than relying on the biotechnology industry to voluntarily try to contain GE contamination as the USDA has the authority to protect all US agriculture.

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312 comments

Comments

Lucretia Krause says …

Whole Foods, you are selling out your commitment to ethics by not demanding full regulation of GM crops. There is no way a conditional regulation will be effective in protecting the genetic purity of open pollinated crops as has already been demonstrated by contamination in organic fields. I'm taking my "whole paycheck" away from you and will focus on local organics - I am highly disappointed in you and completely disgusted that you are calling for public support of conditional regulation rather than the best interest of organic producers and consumers. You owe the organic community more respect than that!

caracakes says …

Beth's comment was so good, I'm reposting it: The only responsible position is full regulation and eventual elimination of GM foods. It is inevitable that contamination of organic and other non-GM crops will result if a policy of ‘coexistence’ is pursued. The only question is how fast the contamination will progress, but it will eventually put organic and sustainable farmers out of business. This will not be good for Whole Foods business. Whole Foods should be using it’s market power to convince the FDA that GM food policy must be science based. And the laws of nature, biology/botany cannot be changed by ‘coexistence’ measures such as buffer zones. It is because Whole Foods has so many GM foods (including GM edamame on the salad bar!), does not label them – in their deli products in particular, and ignores the science of GM foods, that I rarely shop there anymore. It used to be my only source of groceries. The responsibility falls to Whole Foods’ customers to persuade, if not pressure, the company to adopt the science-based position on GM foods – and that is – NO, GMOs, and immediate labeling of all GM foods.

Wendy Bardsley says …

I believe that by supporting the "coexistence" option, Whole Foods is condoning GE alfalfa. ANY amount of Monsanto's GM alfafa getting into the food supply means that we can no longer have truly organic and gmo free dairy products. Once these crops are introduced, contamination is inevitable, and, in fact, counted on by Monsanto in their product strategy. They CANNOT be recalled. As such a large buyer, Whole Foods should not support either of these options, but continue to press for their consumers rights for GMO free food. We don't want "compensation" for contamination, we want the right for our food to be free of GMOs.

Bonno Bernard says …

Talk about greenwashing.This notice is a smoke screen for WFM's tight relationship with GMO-contaminated products and the money they bring. How can we "support Non-GE crops" by allowing "conditional" oversight by the USDA? Federal regulations on GMOs do not require pre-market safety testing, nor labeling; and federal judges have repeatedly ruled that so-called government "oversight" of Frankencrops such as Monsanto's sugar beets and alfalfa is basically a farce. Lab analysis by a number of independent parties has shown that 2/3 of WFM's $9 billion annual sales is derived from so-called "natural" processed foods and animal products that are contaminated with GMOs. WFM is in bed with midwest politicians bent on keeping GMOs in the food, and money chain. Don't buy into this greenwashing.

Holly Porterfield says …

I had been looking forward to your store opening in Boise. However, after backing Monsanto, I will continue to shop elsewhere for my quality organic foods & will never purchase a thing at your stores. How sad that you are in the pockets of Monsanto. It's all about money for you, isn't it? You have no ethics left.

L McK says …

Coexistence? You mean "Whole Foods Sells Out". You are trying to make consumers think you are supporting organics and no-gmo foods while at the same time pandering to Monsanto and the rest. No thank you. But now I know where you stand. How many bucks and back room deals did it take?

Margaret Horton says …

You are misleading your clients with this slick article. You have sold out and I will not support you any longer. I will seek out my local organic farmers and producers and make a point of not coming to your store even if it is more convenient for me. Shoot it straight with us and gain back our respect and patronage. Otherwise, you are not too big to fail.

Michael says …

WTF.. you going to cave? What kinda BS are you trying to sell us? I wont be buying your products or any other company that "co-exists" with GMO's and the poisons they sell, I am starting a Boycott campaign and encouraging others to do the same.!!!

Steve says …

This is such a sell out. You have SOLD OUT organic farmers. You call for "public oversight by the USDA rather than reliance on the biotechnology industry," even though WFM knows full well that federal regulations on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) do not require pre-market safety testing, nor labeling; and that even federal judges have repeatedly ruled that so-called government "oversight" of Frankencrops such as Monsanto's sugar beets and alfalfa is basically a farce. At the end of its email, WFM admits that its surrender to Monsanto is permanent: "The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well True coexistence is a must." According to informed sources, the CEOs of WFM and Stonyfield are personal friends of former Iowa governor, now USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack, and in fact made financial contributions to Vilsack's previous electoral campaigns. Vilsack was hailed as "Governor of the Year" in 2001 by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and traveled in a Monsanto corporate jet on the campaign trail. Perhaps even more fundamental to Organic Inc.'s abject surrender is the fact that the organic elite has become more and more isolated from the concerns and passions of organic consumers and locavores. The Organic Inc. CEOs are tired of activist pressure, boycotts, and petitions. Several of them have told me this to my face. They apparently believe that the battle against GMOs has been lost, and that it's time to reach for the consolation prize. The consolation prize they seek is a so-called "coexistence" between the biotech Behemoth and the organic community that will lull the public to sleep and greenwash the unpleasant fact that Monsanto's unlabeled and unregulated genetically engineered crops are now spreading their toxic genes on 1/3 of U.S. (and 1/10 of global) crop land. WFM and most of the largest organic companies have deliberately separated themselves from anti-GMO efforts and cut off all funding to campaigns working to label or ban GMOs. The so-called Non-GMO Project, funded by Whole Foods and giant wholesaler United Natural Foods (UNFI) is basically a greenwashing effort (although the 100% organic companies involved in this project seem to be operating in good faith) to show that certified organic foods are basically free from GMOs (we already know this since GMOs are banned in organic production), while failing to focus on so-called "natural" foods, which constitute most of WFM and UNFI's sales and are routinely contaminated with GMOs. From their "business as usual" perspective, successful lawsuits against GMOs filed by public interest groups such as the Center for Food Safety; or noisy attacks on Monsanto by groups like the Organic Consumers Association, create bad publicity, rattle their big customers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, Costco, Supervalu, Publix and Safeway; and remind consumers that organic crops and foods such as corn, soybeans, and canola are slowly but surely becoming contaminated by Monsanto's GMOs. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22449.cfm

Florie says …

I'm fairly shocked that you consider this option acceptable, Whole Foods. The USDA is willing to "conditionally deregulate [GE alfalfa] by placing certain rules and restrictions on growing GE alfalfa that would minimize or limit contamination of non-GE crops (including organic)" "Minimize or limit contamination?" What a JOKE.

Hilde says …

This is a cop-out, wholefoods, organic valley, and stoney field farms could and should have bring much more opposition to this issue. How can you go for a partnership on this, a compromise? With the amount of money you charge for your products I need you to fight this tooth and nail. With the intention you tell us you have to bring organic foods to the sotes, you should scream t the top of your lungs and dismiss every deal with monsanto and the FDA. I'm very disappointed.

Hilde says …

USDA proposes THREE options for planting GE alfalfa: 1. Do not deregulate GE alfalfa and prohibit commercial planting 2. Fully deregulate and allow planting everywhere without restrictions 3. Deregulate with geographic restrictions and isolation distances, among other measures So why don't you support the first one. and why in the beginning of your article do you only put the 2 worse options, and then say you have to chose one of those????? The third one absolutely does not make sense because geographic restrictions don;t work, and besides that WE DON;T WANT MONSANTO AND ITS GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS PERIOD....

Robert Smistik says …

https://mail.google.com/mail/?hl=en&shva=1#inbox/12dc95584d796361 How do you respond to this?

Robert Smistik says …

Russell Williams- You don't have a clue.

Joe Grafton says …

You're an embarrassment and burden to all of us trying to really build sustainable local economies.... Way to back a multinational behemoth (just like you, by the way) over the health and well-being of the farmers you claim to care about so much....

Harold Bustamonte says …

whole foods if you accept GGE foods and have given up on our behalf, accept the fact a lot of us will boycott wholefoods..you represent the community and our health Peace

indosungod says …

It is probably time to boycott Whole Food Markets! Peaceful coexistence with Monsanto and GE crops? Really? We don't want an organic market for that do we? We have killed off crop diversity and Monsanto's GE contamination is all over the food chain. Whole Foods, Stoney Field Farms, Tom Vilsack shame on all of you. Be forthright and don't mislead the public. It's the least you can do.

Leslie says …

I am so dissapointed that Whole Foods has decided to surrender to Monsanto. Co-existence between organic and GM foods is impossible! Whole Foods is opening a store in Boise, ID were I reside. As part of my non-GMO campaign, I am going to make sure that anyone who shops there knows that Whole Foods is a traitor to the organic community. BOYCOTT WHOLE FOODS! And spread the word about dangers GM crops and Monsanto. Whole Foods will be punished for selling themselves to the devil! Take action and say NO to CO-EXISTENCE with GMOs!

Florie says …

It's all over. The USDA has approved it: http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2011%2F01%2F0035.xml

Sue says …

I am so disappointed in Whole Foods for advocating this. I buy practically all my grocies at your stores. I am planning on definetly curtailing my expenditures at your store and plan on going dairy free -- since Organic Valley also, sold out. My previously sole dairy choice.

Betty Baig says …

Well, here it is. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Thursday that he would authorize the unrestricted commercial cultivation of genetically modified alfalfa. Mr. Vilsack overlooked a proposal to restrict the growing of genetically engineered alfalfa to protect organic farmers from contamination. Shame of this Tom Vilsack. There is foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease, what will we name the next disease caused by feeding the cows genetically modified alfalfa? Become a vegan. No meat and dairy consumed, no alfalfa sold. By the way, will this genetically modified alfalfa end up in those little sprouts that we get on sandwiches? Something to think about and maybe Mr. Vilsack has not, or, at the scariest, maybe thought of.

K Varszegi says …

"In a cleverly worded, but profoundly misleading email sent to its customers last week, 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. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22449.cfm Is this true?

Rick Siegfried says …

Conditional regulation is a joke. Whole Foods ought to be fighting GE Frankenfoods at every step of the process, not giving in to Monsanto and the USDA in allowing this "food" to be planted anywhere in the world. Whole Foods 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. These greedy corporate pigs are sellouts and are lying through their teeth. You should not shop at Whole Foods. Boycott them until they completely oppose genetically-engineered foods.

Jeremy says …

I too will no longer be shopping at Whole Foods.

Eric says …

Put a label on it and let me decide. Truth-in-labeling, 'cause I'm the 'decider', GW.

Agata says …

WF, you folded like a lawn chair. I'm taking my grocery budget (oversized as it is to fit your prices) elsewhere. Your whole fresh meat section in my local store doesn't have A SINGLE organic offering. I'm willing to give premium dollar to the good guys, but truly this is becoming a joke. Hasta la vista

Mary Phillips says …

Shame on you for sending out this misleading post. As I understand from the Organic Consumer's Association (an organization I trust completely), you gave the green light to USDA bureaucrats to deregulate Monsanto's genetically engineered, herbicide resistant alfalfa, while at the same time spouting anti-GE rhetoric to please your customers. I have been a loyal customer for years -- ever since you came into business. Not so loyal any more.

Mary says …

Shame on you Whole Foods! Coexsistence. Who is paying you? What a joke.

Sandra. says …

Whole foods and all supporting the coexistence option SHAME ON YOU! Here are your own words on this blog..."About us Welcome to Whole Story, the official blog of Whole Foods Market. Don’t know us? In a nutshell, we are the world's leading natural and organic grocer and we’re passionate about healthy food and a healthy planet." If that is TRUE then how can you even think to support this..."“coexistence” option is what we are rallying for even though we continue to have reservations about GE crops." Reservations are you serious, that's the best word you can find. Looks like we have to stop supporting you and all those companies whose products you sell if you are taking this stance! I just can't believe you are going this route!

Adam says …

Do you know how far corn pollen can blow? 500 miles. Unless we get an entire state to be labelled organic, coexistence is not possible, especially for outbreeders such as alfalfa. Contamination of non-GMO varieties in inevitable. I'm very disappointed in the support by Whole Foods of this unviable option. They should have read a biology book first, or consulted a plant breeder.

Robert Smistik says …

Since Whole Food Market, Organic Valley, and Stoneyfield Farms did not recommend the No Action Alternative, they are part of the problem now instead of the solution and all those involved in this decision should be fired immediately and replaced with those who reflect higher states of health consciousness! Labeling could have been another recommendation to make as part of additional mitigation required. Another thing now that these companies can do is give financial support Organic Consumers Assc. in their forthcoming lawsuit to fight this in Court.

Dominique says …

So...WHY did WHOLE FOODS MARKET surrender? Can you explain that please? http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22449.cfm AND what do you have to say to this comment within the article: "Approximately 2/3 of the products sold by Whole Foods Market and their main distributor, United Natural Foods (UNFI) are not certified organic, but rather are conventional (chemical-intensive and GMO-tainted) foods and products disguised as "natural." Unprecedented wholesale and retail control of the organic marketplace by UNFI and Whole Foods, employing a business model of selling twice as much so-called "natural" food as certified organic food, coupled with the takeover of many organic companies by multinational food corporations such as Dean Foods, threatens the growth of the organic movement. Covering Up GMO Contamination: Perpetrating "Natural" Fraud Many well-meaning consumers are confused about the difference between conventional products marketed as "natural," and those nutritionally/environmentally superior and climate-friendly products that are "certified organic." Retail stores like WFM and wholesale distributors like UNFI have failed to educate their customers about the qualitative difference between natural and certified organic, conveniently glossing over the fact that nearly all of the processed "natural" foods and products they sell contain GMOs, or else come from a "natural" supply chain where animals are force-fed GMO grains in factory farms or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). A troubling trend in organics today is the calculated shift on the part of certain large formerly organic brands from certified organic ingredients and products to so-called "natural" ingredients. With the exception of the "grass-fed and grass-finished" meat sector, most "natural" meat, dairy, and eggs are coming from animals reared on GMO grains and drugs, and confined, entirely, or for a good portion of their lives, in CAFOs. " Why in the heck would WHOLE FOODS do this? For those of you buying into this email, You can go here and sign the petition. To pressure Whole Foods Market and the nation's largest supermarket chains to voluntarily adopt truth-in-labeling practices sign here, and circulate this petition widely: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22309.cfm

Leah says …

Grow some balls you pansies! >:o(

Duncan Wright says …

I am saddened that Whole Foods and a small group of powerful "health-food" stores have joined together to support Sec of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's plan for "coexistence" with Monsanto and the Bio-tech food industry. If we choose NOT to co-exist with Monsanto, they will be driven out by the market. The market is wising up, and the market is turning against Monsanto pretty rapidly. 93% of consumers want GMOs to be labeled. And yet Whole Foods chooses "coexistence". Why? I'll tell you... because Whole Foods, which sells many many "natural" (non-organic) foods, is making billions off of packaged foods stuffed with Monsanto crops such as soy, corn, canola, sugarbeet, cottonseed oil. Secondly, Whole Foods benefits from the fears of a GMO dominated agribusiness, which sends scared consumers running through the doors of a "health-food" store like Whole Foods. The truth is they are being sold the same old GMOs in green packaging. YES, write to USDA, but tell them "no to co-existence with the bio-tech industry". Do you want your grandchildren to be able to reproduce? Think about the unknown development of new cancers and pathogens suggested by scientist Arpad Pusztai before he was silenced in a massive shout-down following calls from Monsanto to Clinton to Tony Blair to Pusztai's employers, the Rowett Research Institute in 1998. This was all revealed in the UK newspaper, The Daily Mail in 2003. Think about it!

Dee Nasto says …

I did not take any action on your e-mail. Do not believe that you can coexist with Monsanto.

jaydizzle says …

Just stay as local as possible and READ YOUR LABELS! Here's a great article.. long, but REALLY informative on GMO's! http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22449.cfm Peace and love!

Sarah says …

I did not take any action on your e-mail. Do not believe that you can coexist with Monsanto.

Emily says …

After having seen Food Inc. and the Future of Food, as well as researched the subject for hours on end, I am strongly committed to organic, non-GMO, and non-factory farmed food. I have NEVER sent a mass email to everyone in my address book until i received the one from Whole Foods, as I was distraught over the idea of no longer having organic farms and food as an option. However, even i was writing the USDA, Rush Holt (my congressman) and calling the White House, I was dismayed that I had to say "coexistence," when really I didn't want GM alfalfa at all. Especially because it's fed to cattle and also because of the colony collapse disorder (of the bees). But, Whole Foods (where i almost exclusively shop and whose stock I own) presented it as the best option. THEN, i received the below email from the Organic Consumers Association calling Whole Foods a "sell-out." I'm unhappy I sent this to so many people calling for action and would LOVE someone from whole foods to respond to the below: "Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto" by Ronnie Cummins "The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. True coexistence is a must." - Whole Foods Market, Jan. 21, 2011 In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto's Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation's 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America's organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it's time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto's controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for "coexistence" with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack. Please explain...thank you.

Melissa says …

Sad to say, but I can't support this decision. Giving in is not the answer. You should be answering to your customers instead, which do not want GMO food. There's no way to co-exist with patented seed. Our health, soil, food, crops, etc. are at risk from this infiltration. Not to mention the farmers who are constantly getting harassed already for having "patented" seed on their land. Monsanto is evil and is backed by the most evil corporate heads alive. There's really no point in going out of my way to buy your "organic" products anymore. I will no longer be shopping at your stores.

Sickened says …

What a disgrace. "Whole Paycheck", you have lost my business for this. Monsanto is pure evil and we won't stand by your "coexistence" with them.

Mary Morris says …

I am deeply disturbed by this decision on the part of Whole Foods. Nothing could go further toward supporting Monsanto's GE crops than the leading organic grocer in the United States publicly supporting, AND ASKING US, YOUR LOYAL CUSTOMERS, to support the deregulation of this product. I can no longer shop Whole Foods unless this terrible decision is reversed; you have not simply lost my faith and trust, you have fully betrayed it.

M says …

I am incredibly disappointed with Whole Foods Market. I already had concerns about shopping there, but this is just pathetic. Whole Foods has more power than any co-op, farmer's market, or individual, and they are bowing down to pressure, likely impart because they already carry alot of foods that contain GMO's, etc.. This just proves to me that Whole Foods is a corporation just like any other...ultimately looking out for it's own interests.

Matthew says …

Whole Foods: "So, faced with the choice between full deregulation of GE alfalfa or conditional deregulation of it, our best chance at preserving seed purity, and the future of organic and non-GE agriculture now is to fight for every protection available under the USDA’s conditional deregulation coexistence option." Baloney! You are holding the door open for Monsanto and others with this equivocation and I have to believe you know it. "Conditional deregulation" is a wink-wink-nudge-nudge to Monsanto to let them know you will leave the door unlocked at night.

Clint Summer says …

We are totally opposed to ANY GE crops being planted in a way that could possibly contaminate other crops or wild plants. We believe that the option being supported by WFM is NOT in the best interests of human or environmental health. WFM can expect a consumer reaction to this position that could negatively impact the company's revenues.

Heather says …

I am disappointed in you, Whole Foods. And you do not have the right,nor the power, to speak on behalf of those who choose organic living and work WITH the government in allowing concessions to be made to GMO crops. We don't want them...we don't want to coexist, because we are educated enough to realize that this is truly not possible in the long run. I, and many of my friends who have been loyal WF customers will no longer be providing your company with funds that you use to betray us. Good Riddance...you will never see another penny of mine.

paig292 says …

Update 1/28/11: We have seen a few comments about the OCA’s misleading letter about our company. Once again, the OCA has it all wrong. We have done more than any other retailer to educate and advocate on genetically engineered food, and we are deeply committed to preserving our ability to sell non-GE food. Perhaps OCA did not understand our position. We do not have anything to do with big biotech companies’ agenda! As tried and true pioneers of organic, we at Whole Foods Market support the preservation of seed purity, organic integrity and we are advocates of clearly labeling GMOs so that our shoppers can make informed decisions. There are still many unanswered questions about genetic engineering and there is no mandatory labeling and little government oversight of GMOs. That’s why we have spent the last couple of decades working to find a solution to offer non-GMO foods to our shoppers. We do NOT advocate for the USDA to allow the well-funded biotech industry to monitor itself carte blanche without ongoing government oversight. Unfortunately, the USDA presented our industry with two options: total deregulation of GE alfalfa, or deregulation with some conditions to facilitate coexistence and protection of non-GE farmers. We supported a path of coexistence, not because it’s a perfect path, but because it’s the only viable path that would ensure our ongoing ability to provide non-GMO foods. Given the prevalence of GMO crops in the US --93% of soy, 86% of corn, 93% of cotton and 93% of canola seed planted were genetically engineered in the US in 2010 – we did not believe that a complete ban of GE alfalfa or any crop is an option that the USDA would even consider supporting, nor was it even an option. We favor protecting organic and non-GE agriculture’s property rights, and the USDA’s regulatory authority is the best way to meet this goal. Our options were to have a seat at the table (and support coexistence) or to not be represented at all. We chose deregulation with restrictions so that we could represent our company, the organic food community and our shoppers. This does not mean that we have anything to do with big biotech or that we support their agenda.

Katharine Stowe says …

If there are actually three EIS options, why are only two discussed. As stated in the article, the second option (of the actual three options - not two) would regulate Alfalfa. I would think that Whole Foods, Organic Valley, Cascade Valley, etc. would use their responsibility as organic promoters and producers to fight for the rights of the Organic Farmer (Corporate or Small) and the credibility of the meaning and regulation of "Organic." It is understandable to promote compensation and coexistance but that stance also says a lot of the promoter: Why promote something that is only somewhat ethical? As is the case with other low regulation industries, it is not only unfair but literally backwards that Organic Farmers and certifiers are extremely regulated while they are hopefully (take with a grain of salt on the "hope") attempting to actually help or better the soil, water, animals, and farmers' condition, where promoters of Genetically Engineered production consistently show detrimental effects of the elements above. The topic of regulating Alfalfa could easily be discussed on almost any other GE or conventionally grown good. The third option of regulating Alfalfa is ethically correct in my opinion, as is compensation for the damage GE production has caused. Why on Earth are they not regulated?

Steve says …

Stand with the Center for Food Safety and fight, that is the THIRD OPTION. Sorry Paige, but you are very incorrect in asserting that there are only two options. The USDA's FEIS completely ommitted several key points that will be addressed in court by the CFS. • Liability, Implementation and Oversight — Citing over 200 past contamination episodes that have cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales, CFS demands that liability for financial losses incurred by farmers due to transgenic contamination be assigned to the crop developers. CFS also calls on USDA to take a more active oversight role to ensure that any stewardship plans are properly implemented and enforced. • Roundup Ready alfalfa will substantially increase herbicide use – USDA’s assessment misrepresented conventional alfalfa as utilizing more herbicides than it does, which in turn provided a false rationale for introducing herbicide-promoting Roundup Ready alfalfa. In fact, USDA’s own data shows that just 7% of alfalfa hay acres are treated with herbicides. USDA’s projections in the FEIS show that substantial adoption of Roundup Ready alfalfa would trigger large increases in herbicide use of up to 23 million lbs. per year. • Harms from glyphosate-resistant weeds – USDA’s sloppy and unscientific treatment of glyphosate-resistant (GR) weeds ignored the significant contribution that RR alfalfa could make to their rapid evolution. USDA failed to analyze how GR weeds fostered by currently grown RR crops are increasing herbicide use; spurring more use of soil- eroding tillage; and reducing farmer income through increased weed control costs, an essential baseline analysis. “We in the farm sector are dissatisfied but not surprised at the lack of courage from USDA to stop Roundup Ready alfalfa and defend family farmers,” said Pat Trask, conventional alfalfa grower and plaintiff in the alfalfa litigation. Stand and fight with them, that should be your ONLY option.

Karen Kay says …

There is one thing I can do. I will no longer shop at Whole Foods Market.

susanna says …

What an incredible piece of obfuscation. How dumb do you think we consumers are? It seems you have surrendered to greed. How can you promote "coexistence?" This is one regular customer you have lost. Fortunately my county has a strong network of organic CSA farmers and from now on every effort will be made to buy from them and to give up the convenience of shopping for food all in one stop.

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