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Let’s talk about GMOs at Whole Foods Market

At Whole Foods Market, we believe consumers have the right to know how their food is produced and this includes whether or not it contains Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The YouTube video showing our store Team Members giving conflicting responses to a question about GMOs reminds us that while we try to keep all our 70,000 Team Members up-to-speed on the latest information, clearly we need to do more. Some products in our stores DO contain GMOs – just like any other food store in the country, due to the pervasiveness of GMOs – and we need to do a better job of making sure our Team Members understand this so they can provide customers with the facts.

I hope you don’t believe the claims that Whole Foods Market is coaching its Team Members to give false information to its customers, because it’s completely untrue. The idea goes directly against who we are as a company – for years, we’ve worked hard to provide as much information as possible about our products to our customers.

Here are some things about Whole Foods Market and GMOs that you didn’t see in the video – we have:

  • Invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in putting our house brand products through third party non-GMO verification.
  • Worked tirelessly over the years to support organic agriculture to provide the largest variety of organic products that are grown without GMOs seed per the USDA National Organic Standards.
  • Worked one-on-one with hundreds of our supplier partners to encourage them to get their ingredients from Non-GMO sources.
  • Supported mandatory product labeling measures over the years, most recently including California’s Proposition 37 and Washington state’s Initiative Measure 522, with the hope that the state efforts lead to one federal standard.
  • Helped inform and educate our Team Members and shoppers about the complex issue of GMOs and their prevalence in the country’s food supply.
  • Celebrated Non-GMO month every October with displays, signage, and this year a sale, in our stores.
  • Worked hard to provide as many Non-GMO choices for customers as we can.
  • Put close to 5,000 Non-GMO Verified items on our shelves and done more than any other retailer to support Non-GMO verification and prioritize Non-GMO grocery brands.

Our promise to customers is that we will be further educating our Team Members to give good, clear information about GMOs, so that they are providing facts to those customers who have questions. One way we’re ramping up that education is by putting up GMO information centers in our stores for customer and Team Member education. The first ones go up on October 1 in our California stores.

 

Whole Foods Market has publicly stated its support of California’s Proposition 37 (http://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/news/whole-foods-market-supports-californias-proposition-37). We are not offering a financial donation to the effort because we do not contribute to political campaigns or ballot initiatives as a company policy. Instead, we are supporting the effort by helping inform our Team Members and our customer base with “Vote Yes on Prop 37” signs and information booths in our stores. We’re also highlighting and promoting hundreds of Non-GMO products in our stores throughout October to highlight the availability of these products for our customers.

Ideally, we hope the passing of Proposition 37 will lead to one federal standard for labeling GMOs, similar to how the National Organic Standards were formed. One set of rules and uniform support of a consumer’s right to know would be in everyone’s best interests. 

 

Update: 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.

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423 comments

Comments

Unhappy customer says …

There is no excuse! Policy schmolicy... The whole idea of your store is to promote and defend WHOLE FOODS. Food that is not modified or containing added chemicals. You should be the first one to side with anything that supports your so called values. What viewpoints of a wide variety of costumers?! We ALL are against anything that is not a REAL WHOLE FOOD. That is the sole reason we chooss to buy from your store. You intentionally sell GMO non labeled food. Instead of protecting your customers health and best interest. SHAME ON YOU WHOLE FOODS!

Jabe Hammond says …

Believe me, your customers do want you to contribute financially to support Proposition 37.

Joe says …

Thanks for trying to keep my business, but 5 years....really? I've recently started shopping at Concord Food Co-op in Concord NH, but maybe I'll check back in 5 years to see if Whole foods is worth my business again. Thanks

David Woodling says …

Your company by policy is proactively involved in deceptive marketing practices allowing GMO products to be sold to customers of whole foods. To improve your process I would recommend you label any product that contained GMO's in your store if not, the better move would be to drop all GMO based products from your shelves. I would also actively support Prop 37 in California and donate money to make sure Prop 37 succeeds in California. We could use the same here in Texas. Thanks and have a great day.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DAVID - We actually just announced last week we have committed to full GMO transparency by giving supplier partners five years to source non-GMO ingredients or to clearly label products with ingredients containing GMOs. You can read the recent blog post at https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/gmo-labeling-coming-whole-foods-market.

Betty Baig says …

There is so much GMO product disguised into names that you would not think are GMO. Whole Foods is trying and I thank them for trying. At least they are better than the other grocery stores. Prop 37 did not pass in California because a lot of Californians do not care if they eat GMOs, and that is the sad fact. People are more ready to spend money on expensive cars, homes, but not on what they put into their bodies and that reflects a lot of Californians as well. Good luck to you all who do not want to go to Whole Foods anymore, Trader Joe's and Sprouts also have GMOs, maybe more. Buyer beware and check your labels. By the way, President Obama has signed a bill that protect Monsanto. Who did you vote for?

BILL KENNEDY says …

IT DOESN'T TAKE 5 YEARS TO LABEL GMOS IN A PRODUCT YOU SELL . YOU ALREADY KNOW WHICH PRODUCTS HAVE THEM SHAME ON YOU . I WILL NOT BE IN YOUR STORE TILL 2018

Joe Willy says …

more lies...

Sally Greenberg says …

I was so disappointed to see that you still sell (at least in the Berkeley store) Morningstar Farms products. They have never labeled the fact that they use GMOs in all products aside from the one or two labeled as organic. You carry some great competitors who do label their products. Time to get Morningstar Farms out of your freezer case! Thanks!

David D says …

In 2012 I asked one of the managers at Whole Foods on Cambie Street here in Vancouver, British Columbia, whether the granola I had been eating for years had GMO ingredients, especially the canola oil, because I had heard canola oil was largely GMO along with most soy oil. The manager evaded the question. I had noticed "NO GMO" signs on some products in the store. I asked him if that meant that the products without "NO GMO" signs under them actually had GMO. He said he did not know. I asked him to find out and post signs saying "CONTAINS GMO" under them. He got very angry and refused to answer and walked (stalked is a better word) away.

Cathy Thebeloved says …

The ingredients listed on some of your food bar items say that they are prepared with canola oil. Ninety five percent of the Canola crop in the US and Canada are GMO"S. Can't you use organic Olive oil or something else besides Canola oil? Our family and many others don't eat there because we don't know what you're using in the preparation of these foods.Thank you for responding. Is there anyway you can provide a list of your products that contain GMO's? Sincerely C.Thebeloved

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CATHY - All of the Prepared Food items that are made in-house use verified non-GMO canola oil. We also have a list of the non-GMO products available in each store. You can find the list on your local store's web page by searching http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

sc says …

I love love Whole Foods.... but I dont' understand why you provided GMO products in your stores? I know there is cross pollination, but we can all still fight the fight. Please don't give your customers an excuse that everyone is doing it. What happen to your "Safer Way Foods" mission? Is greed more important than a heatlhy life and humanity? Have you seen what GMO can do to your dad, mom or children's health (cancer, tumors, etc...)? I believe we as a consumer all need to reconsider if shopping at Whole Foods is really safe for our kids and families. Please help us understand you future objectives, goals for long and heathly lives.

steve summers says …

i am 100% against gmo foods, and after finding out how much gmo is in your product line, i no loner shop at wholefoods. i am angry that i was missled for all these years about what is really in your products. gmo ingredients should have been listed long ago. ps: its all about the money isnt it

Eleanor Israel says …

Good evening, I am working on the grass roots campaign in WA re labeling GMO foods along with many friends. One has the Poppy Car from Dr. Bronner's. We are all dismayed to find that Wholefoods has not funded any part of this vitally important vote and think the excuse feeble that you do not support political campaigns. This is the future of good food in this country and you as the biggest natural food store should be leading the way with funding. It does not make sense you are just talking about it and educating staff - it's money that will get this ballot passed and the lobbyists for the GMO companies have put millions of dollars up to oppose this bill. We feel very let down by you. Regards, Eleanor

Katherine Weaver says …

Wow! I just tapped into the WF site and blog looking for nutritional info and stumbled upon the posts regarding Prop 37 and carrying GMO's in Whole Foods. For someone who spends a lot of money in your store, I had no idea you were allowing GMO products and I feel extremely deceived. It's obvious you're buckling at the knees for Monsanto, because knowingly allowing any GMO product onto your shelves goes against everything you originally stood for. Your prices are quite high compared to regular stores who are beefing up their organic departments. So tell me (or tell "us", rather) - what is now the difference between shopping WF (who now carries GMO products & where the prices are high) vs. shopping Publix or the like (who's carried GMO's all along, but has really expanded their organic offerings, yet keeps their prices in check)? Shame on you! I'll be spending our food dollars on Publix Greenwise and their other organic offerings.

William Corriveau says …

I don't think anyone WANTS to eat GMO's. It's not really a partisan issue so much as it is a humanitarian one. I've yet to see a benefit to anyone (except Monsanto) from this experiment. Granted, if only one side of the "political aisle" is anti-GMO, that does pose a problem for you. However, I feel that your customer base is almost entirely composed of people who are aware of the GMO problem and working to avoid it by shopping at your stores. That's why I shop here, anyways. When it comes right down to it, I don't think you'd be hurting yourself too awfully bad by taking a side on this issue, but I'll leave that decision to your management.

kari stokes says …

Unfortunately, I will no longer be shopping at Wholefood. The market implies that it is a health food store. I do not want to associate with any market that offers ANY GMO food. Therefore, I will do ALL of my shopping at Trader Joe which does not allow ANY GMO in its stores. This makes it very easy for the consumer to purchase foods/items for their family feeling confident they are getting quality NON-GMO food. Not sure why Wholefood did not jump on this wagon a long time ago. People want a store they can depend on. Whole foods isn't that store.. Not for me anyway and most likely not for many many more either.

Ariel says …

Your store is full of GMOs! Your deli and meat options are a joke you only have organic chicken thighs everything else is gmo! For being such a big company with so much money to spend and so much resources you should have that whole store organic and non gmo! All you are promising is labeling and it's not for another four years that your even gonna do it!!

Oliver G says …

I understand that you want GMOs to be labeled but I have a rational question for you. Whats so bad about GMO's? There has never been any significant research showing harmful effects. While you guys push for GMO labeling some people are starving and would kill for some GMO food. How do you expect to feed a growing population of 7 billion without innovation?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@OLIVER - We want to provide transparency through GMO labeling as we believe it's our customers right to know what is in their food. Then, each customer can make an informed shopping decision based on their personal beliefs about GMOs.

Daniel Lebenstein says …

The produce guy said ALL of your corn is non GMO. I would like to know if that is true.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DANIEL - Our vendors will differ between stores so the produce team will be able to confirm this. It will depend if their corn is either all organic or verified non-GMO. Were you able to ask anyone in produce leadership?

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