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GMO Labeling Coming to Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market commits to full GMO transparency by giving supplier partners five years to source non-GMO ingredients or to clearly label products with ingredients containing GMOs.

Today, we stood up for the consumer’s right to know by announcing that all products in our US and Canadian stores containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be clearly labeled within five years. We heard our customers loud and clear asking us for GMO labeling and we are responding where we have control: in our own stores.

We are the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency. By 2018, we will require our supplier partners to label products containing GMO ingredients, and we will work in collaboration with them as they transition to sourcing non-GMO ingredients or to clearly labeling products with ingredients containing GMOs.

This is a complicated issue, and we wanted to give our supplier partners enough time to make this change. Fortunately, many of our suppliers are already well on their way to moving to Non-GMO ingredients and a good number are already there. While five years is the deadline, we know there will be progress much sooner and we plan to announce key milestones along the way.

The prevalence of GMOs in the US paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for grocery stores to source non-GMO choices and for consumers to choose non-GMO products. Yet we know our customers care passionately. In fact, Non-GMO™ Project verified products are among the fastest growing sellers in our non-perishable grocery category. 

For many years, we’ve sourced our 365 Everyday Value products to avoid GMOs in their plant-based ingredients and in 2009, we began putting this line through the Non-GMO Project verification program and encouraged our grocery supplier partners to do the same. Whole Foods Market currently sells 3,300 Non-GMO Project verified products from 250 brands, more than any other retailer in North America. We will continue this important work and our customers will see more and more Non-GMO Project Verified labels on products throughout our stores.

While the US and Canada still have no labeling laws, more than 60 countries do. However, many US states are currently considering mandatory labeling initiatives, like the one in Washington state, where 500,000 citizens signed a petition last year to move the initiative the next step to their state legislature for consideration. Whole Foods Market supports that ballot measure in Washington and hopes it and other such state initiatives will finally lead to one uniform set of rules in support of the consumer's right to know. There are also efforts that have made GMOs now part of a national conversation. JustLabelIt.org, for instance, has collected over 1.5 million signatures in support of mandatory federal labeling. And while we are encouraged by the many mandatory labeling initiatives, we are committed to moving forward with our own GMO transparency plan now.

Until the GMO labeling requirement is fully effective, shoppers can rely on Non-GMO Project verified products and certified organic products if they want to avoid GMOs. The US National Organic Standards prohibit the intentional use of GMO seed in the production of organic crops. As a pioneer in the US organic food movement for the past 32 years, we offer thousands of organic products, the largest variety in the country. To ensure a growing supply of non-GMO options for our customers, we are stepping up our support of organic and certified products, and we are growing the non-GMO supply chain with our supplier partners.

We are as excited about this announcement as we are dedicated to supporting transparency and our customers’ right to know what’s in their food.

Hear more from Walter Robb about the announcement in this video on his blog and watch the announcement made at Natural Products Expo here.

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672 comments

Comments

Kirstin Martin says …

Thank you Whole Foods! Now if you could just put a store in Grand Rapids, MI so we didn't have to drive to Ann Arbor or Detroit just to get to one! :)

Kathy Smith says …

Thank you for this, I will return to doing the majority of my shopping at Whole Foods in 5 years when ALL of your products are labeled.

bdreamer says …

THANK YOU!!!!

Michele Jacobson says …

As a staunch GMO labeling advocate, I applaud Whole Food's move! For those who are still not clear on what GM and GE foods are, please take a look at my articles on the topic: education on this issue is key! http://www.nutritionprescription.biz/gmo-blog.html Michele Jacobson Certified Clinical Nutritionist NOFA-New Jersey, Public Policy Committee

Rebekah G says …

Thank you so much, Whole Foods for listening to your customers! This will hopefully start a wonderful precedence of valuing customer concerns & the right to know proper food content labeling. Thank you for being an advocate & a stronger voice of individuals looking to take back their health! We value your company & what it stands for.

Jana Rice says …

THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU! May other store chains take up your trend!!!!

Jill Pena says …

Wooo-Hoooo! Very impressed that you will be labeling GMO's! This was one thing I had been disappointed in with Whole Foods....and I will be shopping there even more now!!

Patricia Alba says …

Thank you for taking the initiative of enforcing labeling in the products you carry in your stores! You have my support, and while I haven't shopped in your stores before, I will most certainly be taking that drive to one of your stores quite soon :)!

Laura says …

It is absoluty ridiculous for GMO in your stores!!! why we come to pay the high price??? to make sure we can get quality organic produce! why do you have conventional, either???if we want that , we go to the regular market to get all the pesticide!!! it is absolut outrages!!!--- is FDA, goverment -hands????

Tracy Malkin says …

Thank you Whole Foods, this shows you care about your customer's long term health and well being...not just money and profits.

JD says …

Very happy about this!

Matt says …

whole foods should not even carry gmo. that is not the definition of whole food.

Marsha Smith says …

I am SOOOOO glad to hear this. Just too bad is has to wait so long, but I understand why it has to.

Donna Boyle says …

GO WHOLE FOODS!!...With all that being said NOW, I will continue to be a FAITHFUL WHOLE FOODS SHOPPER AND BELIEVE IN THE RIGHT FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW WHAT IS IN THEIR FOODS.. I have been a FAITHFUL WHOLE FOODS SHOPPER FOR ALMOST 7, SEVEN YEARS NOW and will give even more of my (weekly) food needs to you, WHOLE FOODS over the competitor!!..Thank you very much..

g r says …

5 years is too long. During those 5 years many people will be unawarely eating GMOs purchased at your stores and will incur the known and unknown health risks. It seems to me that this announcement of labeling to come in 5 years is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Whole Foods can look like the good guy while it sits back and waits to see what the climate over GMOs becomes and what laws will be passed regarding them. I'm not buying this ploy. If you are serious, take visible action in your store right now. Perhaps you could start a GMO free section and enlarge it as more and more of your suppliers come on board.

Susan says …

Thank you for listening to your customers. This is great news! However, 5 years is way too long. I hope your supplier partners will comply much sooner.

Stephen Putnam says …

Thank you so much for coming forward with this statement. I can tell there are smart people working together to provide comfort for your customers and that truly is important. Thanks again.

Kim Jurich says …

But I was under the (false?) impression that Whole Foods did not carry GMO products!

Lucie Fraser says …

Great news! Congratulations for taking a big step ahead.

Ashley says …

PLEASE BUILD A WHOLE FOODS IN REDDING CA!!!!!!!

Catherine Campbell says …

Thanks to the shareholders who know it's a profitable move as it became inevitable by the social political activism of ...YOU KNOW WHO...WE THE PEOPLE. tHANKS PEOPLE!

Nathan W says …

Thank you for your leadership in this most important issue! This is a huge step in the right direction and hopefully other businesses will follow your lead.

jim hubel says …

amen, no...one should eat gmo nutrition free food it should be illegal cancers an.d diseases will run.amuc with this modified garbage e ven animals suffer...it should.t even. be allowed I wan.t to see politicians eat this crap if its safe which we know isnt

Sandra DeSantis says …

Awesome news...will this also include your food bars??? Use to eat at the store before shopping but now I have no idea if there are gmo's in the ready made food. I'm assuming yes as I see canola oil as an ingredient in alot of items.

Crystal Rosenbrook says …

Thank You!!! Now, please come to Eau Claire, WI! Population of 66,000.

Crystal Rosenbrook says …

Thank You!!! Now, please come to Eau Claire, WI! Population of 66,000.

Ken Fraser says …

You could require GMO labeling with your next order from every supplier. The suppliers know if they are using GMO's, and if they don't, they should. Five years is much to long to wait.

Lisa Smith says …

THANK YOU! You just gave me another reason to love you.

Clarence Corbin says …

Couldn't be more proud to be working for the mighty WFM!

Cathy Mathia says …

THANK YOU WHOLE FOODS!!!!

Jack Gesmundo says …

I applaud this new policy. Congratulations on taking this stand for placing the health of people above short term profits. I am happy to support Whole Foods.

Jen says …

yaaaaaaay! great news! love you guys!

Cristina Harman says …

That is wonderful and one of the many reasons I support and only shop at Whole Foods.

Milan Vasic says …

Fantastic News.......Thank you for taking a stand.

Len says …

Thank you for restoring my faith.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@GR - We have definitely taken visible action in our stores. If you take a look at our GMO FAQ page (http://wholefoodsmarket.com/about-our-products/product-faq/gmos) you will see what we have done thus far in order to help educate our consumers on what to look for if they want to avoid GMOs.

Claudia Haas says …

Giving suppliers 5 years to source NON GMOs or CLEARLY LABEL products containing GMOs seems like an awfully long time. Doesn't it?!

louis Farenchella says …

It's about time!!

Eden Stone says …

Five years is a ridiculously long time frame. See you in 2018!

Nicole says …

Yay Wholefoods!! :)

Elizabeth Zenker says …

Excellent! Thank you, Whole Foods for this commitment to labeling GMOs! I am so happy you have taken this step, but hurry! Don't let it take a full five years.

Debbie says …

This is incredible, amazing news!!! Thank you for taking a risk, being a leader and caring enough about our health to take a bold step like this! You will have many, many more devoted fans/shoppers because of this move.

Terri Negron says …

2018 does seem like a very very long time for us to know what kind of food we are buying/eating. No way to shorten this time period?

Amber Starr says …

This is a wonderful announcement! It will take some suppliers a while to properly label and to find new resources. I would gladly become a Whole Foods patron if there was one close to me! Can you please put a store closer to Cecil County MD? Understandably, we are very rural, and stores would most likely be placed in areas with more patronage; however, the closest Whole Foods to me is approximately 45-60 minutes away. I do my part and shop at as many local farms as I can in order to support local business and avoid GMOs, but I need a full fledged grocery store to purchase everything that we need. Please consider expanding into the area! Thanks!

g r says …

Whole Foods, if you are sincere start now and don't wait 5 years. You can start with a Non GMO section in your store, and watch it grow as more and more of your suppliers begin to provide Non GMO product. It will be an impetus to the providers to provide that sort of product, and you will be an example to all, and it can start today. Five years is too long to wait where health and nutrition are concerned.

Fotoj says …

great move but 5 years really. seems a bit long.

K Godfrey says …

This is what we have been paying you extra for all these years...that you take thoughtful care of the products you sell us... finally you appear to be doing your job, perhaps. How about more local sourcing for your Canadian stores?

Patricia Cruz says …

GREATNEWS! Another step in the right direction!

amy melick says …

I'm so happy that this is finally happening! One step closer to a more honest and healthy/well society!

Chris Nelson says …

Thank you.

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