Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

GMO/Monsanto Buyout Rumors Untrue

Stop the insanity! I help with customer inquiries here at Whole Foods Market and we’ve been hearing some wild, off-base stories from folks around the country lately.

For brevity’s sake, I’m going to list them here in hopes of dispelling these rumors.

Rumor No. 1: Whole Foods Market has been bought by Monsanto. No! What crazy talk! We’ve never had any affiliation with that company. We are publicly traded; our majority shareholders are listed in documents filed with the SEC and, I promise, Monsanto is not on the list and never has been.

Rumor No. 2: Whole Foods Market made a secret deal with Monsanto to support the deregulation of GMO crops like alfalfa. Again, no way! This ridiculous rumor started over a year ago in January 2011 because of the Organic Consumer Association’s (OCA) misleading article titled “Whole Foods Caves to Monsanto.”

You see, Whole Foods Market and others in the organic food industry met with the US Secretary of Agriculture in support of farmers’ rights to grow Non-GMO crops

Because we did not take the exact hard-line stance that the OCA did, they accused us of “being in bed with Monsanto,” and the rumor developed from there. Whole Foods Market has no ties to Monsanto and did not have any interaction with the company concerning this or any other issue. For a good description of what really happened, here’s a solid Washington Post story.

You can also read our blog response from last year.

Rumor No. 3: Whole Foods Market recently decided to start selling food with GMOs. Wrong again! As long as GMO crops have been in this country, GMOs have been in the US food supply. The most effective action we can take now is to label the food that DOESN’T include GMOs. That’s why we’ve enrolled our 365 Everyday Value and 365 Organic product line in the Non-GMO Project Verification Program, and have encouraged our branded vendors to do the same – and many, many have.

If you want to avoid GMOs, here’s what to look for in our stores:

  • Organic products, since USDA organic standards prohibit the use of GMO ingredients.
  • Our 365 Everyday Value and 365 Organic store brand food products are sourced to avoid GMO ingredients and many have been verified under the Non-GMO Project verification program. You can find a list of verified products on each of our store web pages.
  • Products labeled with the Non-GMO Project Verified label. For a shopping list of Non-GMO Project Verified products carried by your local store, check your store’s webpage or review brands and products on the Non-GMO project website.

Thanks for reading and now back to your regularly scheduled shopping.

Leave a reply

To provide feedback or ask a question about our company, a store or a product, please visit our Customer Service page.

For more information about posting comments to our blog, please see our Comment Posting Guidelines.

468 comments

Comments

bull says …

why does whole foods carry any gmo's or non organice produce? everyone that shops there is health concerned and does not want to eat anything sprayed with pesticides. I can buy regular produce soaked with poision at walmart for alot cheaper????? One more thing you now carry Brryers ice cream which from what i read is made from milk from cows that are treated with RBGH , a artificial growth hormown that is banned everywhere but here. Whats up with that???

Jerry says …

Wf still caries Horizon "Organic" milk from factory farms, and Kashi GMO ridden "Natural" cereals. Don't believe the corporate spin.

Sarah says …

I agree with a pp about the issue with conventional produce. When I go to WF I expect to see a larger amount of organic produce and little to if any conventional, but this is sadly not the case. This is my biggest gripe. Plus, with WF corporate power and worth I expect more in terms of taking a stronger stance against GMO crops.

Jax Jamon says …

Its true, if you are really concerned about not eating anything contaminated with GMOs, then you can best protect yourself by only purchasing products that are certified OG ... HOWEVER: and I urge anyone who reads this to try a simple experiment the next time your in Whole Foods; pick up an "Everyday Value 365" product thats certified Organic and look on the back of the package. Chances are you will see that the product was grown in China- where regulations on growing organic is a joke. These products ARE contaminted with GMOs and this is an obscene act of misleading and lying to overpaying and trusting consumers

Rose Cole says …

WHAT?!!!!!!! I love how you totally distract from the truth here. I hope everyone can see that you are not saying that WF doesn't sell GMOs. All that you say here is that you carry non-GMO options that are clearly marked. That's a start... but what about all of the other products that you carry that have GMOs?!!!!!! DON'T BE FOOLED EVERYONE! WHOLEFOODS DOES CARRY PRODUCTS WITH GMOs STILL! ONLY THE ORGANIC PRODUCTS OR THE ONES SPECIFICALLY MARKED THAT THEY DON'T HAVE GMOs, DON'T HAVE GMOs.... THEY ARE JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER STORE IN THE COUNTRY. YOU STILL HAVE TO BUY ORGANIC OR MAKE SURE THEY ARE MARKED NON-GMO. ~ROSE COLE

patty pappas says …

so evidently you are not telling the "whole story"

Aubrey says …

As the leading health food store in the world, I feel that you should defiantly take a hard line stance against GMO. There is so much out there about the dangers of GMO including the potential due to cross breeding with other plants to end life our our planet. Im sure you must have heard of the "Terminator" seeds. There are also cases in studies with rats that show that eating GMO alters the genes of the animals eating them and rats that ate only GMO were rendered nearly 100 percent sterile and those who did give birth had deformed offspring. Is this what Whole Foods envisions for the world? There is so much more, like farmers being put out of business by Monsanto taking advantage of corrupt patent laws. How can you support this in any way shape or form? If you really want to be what you claim to be, you should completely prohibit the sale of any GMO or bi-products in your store. This is possible as there are many farmers and companies who sell food guaranteed to be non-GMO. I want to know that when I buy an apple at Whole Foods is is not GM and not have to worry about checking labels at a "health food store" . Isn't that why we shop there? So we can have the peace of mind of knowing that ANYTHING we buy there is truly safe and natural. Thanks, Aubrey Yarper

Mavis Anderson says …

THANKS WHOLE FOODS for explaining this. I constantly ask my grocery store about GMO foods and they act like they don't know what I am talking about. Let's continue asking for labeling.

Annliza Wood says …

I appreciate Whole Foods partial clarification of the recent issues concerning organic food and GMO products sold at your store. However, the Fundamental issue with WF and GMO products is currently Centered around alfalfa that is GE contaminating the organic food source by being fed to cows that Produce milk/meat for the market. On a thin technicality, one could label such a product as 'not containing GMO'. Please address your stand on this specific issue. There is enough alarming evidence publicly available for activists such as myself to call for a wholesale boycott of WF if concerns are not specifically and thoroughly addressed. Your market is too expensive to sustain a loyal following of food conscious people if you are not following adequate safeguards. I am a true food activist who has a wide reach, and beyond my reach are all the others who read my posts and share or spread information. The potential to lose an enormous customer base exists, and it is well for you to be forthcoming and also fastidious in your product choices. If you think GMO products are here to stay, and that consumers have to accept that, then you are an enormous part of the problem. GMO products will have to go away if enough consumers understand the short term and far reaching implications of continuing to buy products that are proven hazardous to the environment and unfit for human consumption. Corporate greed, regardless of who is sitting in the white house, is fast becoming one of the most offensive issues facing homeland well being and you may want to think about whether scruples or the next higher profit margin will be the thing that keeps WF solvent. Annliza Wood

Sandy says …

Thank you Whole Foods. I travel 25 miles to shop at your market. I feel I can safely get food for my family without having to buy GMO foods. And I spend no more than I would buying crap at another market.

Laurie Matlock says …

I am glad you did this so as to clarify, it truly did not seem to be anything other than what it was, which is/was viscous malarky. Bravo to you.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ANNLIZA - Due to the prevalence of the GMOs in the commodity grain market and the limited availability of verified non-GMO feed, we cannot require the use of only non- GMO feed for animal products (including meat, dairy and farmed fish) sold in our stores. We encourage shoppers who are looking to avoid products from animals fed GMOs to choose organic meat and dairy products (since organic standards prohibit the intentional use of GMOs), farmed mollusks such as clams, oysters, and mussels (since no added feed is used when farming these species), or wild-caught seafood.

rosemary says …

so let me get this clear, that nothing in the whole foods store is made with anything gmo related. there are no dairy products that any of the cows, goats or sheep ate gmo alfalfa or corn or grain? no egg products that chicken ate non organic feed? it is getting so difficult to eat non-gmo, i just want to be guaranteed i am not getting any food product that evil gmo products were involved. please let me know, thanks, rosemary

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ROSEMARY - If you are concerned about animals being fed GMOs, I would suggest to look for organic meat and dairy products (since organic standards prohibit the intentional use of GMOs). As you will see in my comment above, "due to the prevalence of the GMOs in the commodity grain market and the limited availability of verified non-GMO feed, we cannot require the use of only non- GMO feed for animal products (including meat, dairy and farmed fish) sold in our stores." I hope this helps!

Lottie says …

Thank you for clarifying this. But I do still have a concern. You provided a list of what to look for in your stores and one of those items was, "Organic products, since USDA organic standards prohibit the use of GMO ingredients." Based upon this statement, my concern is: It is my understanding that the USDA has made an exception with soy. That soy can contain GMO and still be used in foods labeled as organic. If this is true, then I would imagine any of your organic products that contain soy could, theoretically, contain GMOs. Please clarify whether or not my understanding is true.

curt ruff says …

I was at a viewing about GMO products in the food change. Some one in that meeting said Monsanto owned Wool Foods. I did not think there was any truth ti the statement.

tk says …

This makes my heart smile.

Alesia says …

This is good news indeed, however I have heard that WFM and Stoneyfield Farm have come together to create another company called Elite Organics which utilizes GMO foods. Is this true? Alesia

Kitte Knight says …

"The most effective action we can take now is to label the food that doesn't include GMOs" You are wrong. The most effective action you can take now is to simply STOP SELLING GMO FOODS! Empower your buyer to research and eliminate everything on your shelves that contain GMO ingredients. That would be MOST effective action.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ALESIA - I spoke with the Grocery team and there is nothing to report in the pipeline for creating a new company such as the one in question. To clarify in general, the USDA organic standards prohibit the use of GMO ingredients in products with an organic label. I would encourage you to keep an eye out for organic products if you are concerned with GMO's.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LOTTIE - I have our Quality Standards team looking in to your question regarding soy and will post their response as soon as I get it!

Walt says …

Does your beef & poultry contain antibiotics. GMO free is one thing but animals being fed antibiotic-laced food is another. How can I be assured that your products are safe to consume when there is no mention on your label that they are drug-fed free..

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@WALT - Thanks for your question. Under our strict Quality Standards, the meat sold in our stores will not have any antibiotics, ever. You can find a recent blog post on this topic at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/our-meat-no-antibiotics-ever-0.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LOTTIE - According to our Quality Standards team the USDA National Organic Standards do not allow the use of GMOs in organic food, and there is no exception made for soy ingredients. I hope this helps clarify this for you.

Audrey says …

But Whole Foods should monitor and keep out of their store ALL gmo products. There are a lot of foods that aren't labeled organic and also don't have the "non-gmo" label. We should be able to trust ALL foods in the store.

Jennefer says …

"Just LABEL THE PRODUCTS YOU PRODUCE THAT CONTAIN GMOs. Quit hiding behind all green paint." says Renaldoo I totally agree- Why make our shopping experience so complicated? If GMO's are used, say it on the package!!!! If I buy "first press, extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil", that seems like a pretty good product to me. Ah, but no. Because it doesn't say "Organic" , I actually don't know if it contains GMO's. According to Libba (above), ALL FOOD contains GMO's now. That simply isn't true. I believe Whole Foods is using this to promote their 365 Everyday Value product, which to me is an inferior product. Keep it simple Whole Foods, if it contains GMO's, put it on the label!! PLEASE!

Bob Wilson says …

If BT corn, which is clearly toxic to the human gut too, is in Whole Foods market unlabeled, then that needs to change asap. If it doesn't change soon then Whole Foods needs to consider a change in leadership. And I say that because half of their own culinary line of products contain canola oil as their main ingredient. Mind boggling. Someone is stuck in the 20th century within their chain of command. The machine oil known as rapeseed aka canola oil was proven to be a health fraud decades ago.

Brenda Williford says …

Thank you, Whole Foods, for clairifying. I had read that story and I am definitely feeling much better now! Now if we could just get a Whole Foods in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, I would be ecstatic!

Mike Owen says …

I was disappointed to learn that whole foods uses conventionally grown produce in their warm self serve section. I asked the cashier if the vegies were organic and he told me that, unless they were labeled, they were not. Wow, so "whole foods" is serving the very customers that come there to find healthy foods, toxic pesticides and nutrient starved food that was grown and contaminated by corporate criminals. With the horrendous plague of diet caused diseases that afflicts Americans today, (my 47 year old friend was just diagnosed with cancer), my opinion is that anyone that puts profit before people and feeds them poison is a criminal. I do believe criminals can be rehabilitated and hope that whole foods will rapidly correct their behavior.

Oliver says …

something is fishy here there has to be a little truth behind this

Marylee McIntyre says …

Thank you. I will go back to regularly scheduled life. I just wish you had a store closer to where I lived. When I lived in MI I lived four miles away from the nearest Whole Foods. Sadly, now I live about 90 miles away.

leah says …

I have spoke to 4 representatives in your store Folsom, CA and they all 4 confirm that Whole Foods sells GMO corn W.Foods should stay organic even if it means no corn! that is why our whole neighborhood does not shop there but Trader Joe's instead. We hope you will reconsider selling this highly contaminated foods foods.

Nona Lee Gregg says …

I will continue to check, but I'm glad to know whole foods is not dealing with montsano --a dispicable corporation along with DuPont et al.

Linda Frost says …

I questioned this wide-spread (in our town) rumor when I saw your products on display at the Heritage Expo in Roseville. I figured they were against GMOs, and would not include you if you were involved with Monsanto...but we actually had a person in our town telling everyone not to shop at Whole Foods! This person spreads alot of rumors...I am glad to hear officially that the Monsanto thing is untrue. Love your goat cheddar!!! Best cheese on the planet.

Theresa Bergantino says …

Thank You for sharing this statement all I've been haring is that it is so sad that Whole Foods caved in to Monsanto, I absolutely love your store and will now shop there regularly the only down fall is that it is not closer to where i live. (about 20 minutes from my house) You have a wonderful array of variety that I love to see, and feel confident now more so that I am not giving Monsanto more fuel to get our farmers to cave in. Thank You for setting this absurd claim straight.

Derek Sabori says …

Thanks for clarifying/addressing this...It came up in a conversation yesterday and my jaw hit the floor! Glad to hear it's not true...

JJ says …

NO NO NO. It should be the other way around. LABEL THINGS THAT HAVE GMOs !!!! People who shop at your stores assume that everything is already organic/healthy for you. I'm done shopping at your store until you help your customers by labeling GMOs in your store or by helping your customers push the government to force Monsanto to label all GMO products. We need your support in keeping food real/healthy/cancer free and actually NATURAL !

ako says …

Thank you!!! and I believe you !

Cole Haley says …

SO, WFM does sell products with GMO ingredients, BUT to avoid them we must read labels and find "Organic" or "Non-GMO Project" verification seals? How about addressing this question - Does Whole Foods sell products that contain GMO's? Do you sell non-organic soy or corn? What about all the "Conventional" produce, aren't those products grown with chemicals such as Roundup? So you don't contract or deal directly with Monsanto, but doesn't selling products which contain Monsanto's poison support them down the money chain?

Guillaume Dougados says …

You actually DO carry GMO products. I purchased Puffins "cereals" at Whole Foods and recently discovered that these are within the "dirty dozen", actually top 10 GMO-laden cereals so it is NOT a wrong rumor and actually not a rumor but a FACT that Whole Foods does carry GMO products.

NML says …

So by saying that you label foods that DON'T have GMOs, you are indirectly admitting that you do in fact sell GMO food. It makes me sick that Whole Foods have decided to be deceitful instead of just coming out and telling the truth. Anything for profits, right? You're no better than Monsanto.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@NML - We've never made the claim that we don't sell GMOs. However, the organic products we sell, by definition (and regulated by the USDA's National Organics Program) do not contain GMOs. We've also spent many years making as many non-GMO products as possible available to our shoppers. Since GMOs are so prevalent in the food supply, we work extremely hard to ensure that our shoppers have alternatives which include: lots of organic choices, sourcing our 365 Everyday Value products to avoid GMOs in addition to carrying thousands of Non-GMO Project verified products.

Jeff thomas says …

I guess to point #3 if you sell GMO products then you "decided to start selling foods with GMO" but not "recently". I am not sure if that is a very good answer. It would be great if you took a stand on labling food GMO or not (prop 37). Also that you decided to lable food if it was GMO free then that means that more food has GMO then doesn't at your store. Hmmmmmmm.

cloudbird bonin says …

As an Organic Farmer, Nutritional Therapist, Health Educator & ACTIVE PARTICIPANT in the YES on Prop 37 to Label GMO's Campaign- I have noticed that you are now an endorser of the Campaign. While this is important, and hat's off to you for finally making a decision to endorse, you Johnny-Come-Lately-You: I encourage Whole Foods to take the next step and MAKE A FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION. I have already heard back from Whole Foods Omaha, and was told that there is a policy not to contribute to political campaigns. A quick Google search finds that CEO John Mackey has over the years lent numerous endorsements to a wide range of political issues having nothing to do with the industry that Whole Foods represents. Prop 37 represents the heart of the matter when it comes to whole, natural food & a Safe Food System. As the biggest retailer of whole, 'natural' (whatever that means anymore) & Organic foods- the American Consumer Public asks your company to show its support with its Corporate dollars. Your lack of financial support for Prop 37 flies in the face of what your company is built on. PS: none of the Rumors that this Blog mentions has anything to do with the factual info communicated by the OCA, Food Democracy Now! or CA RIGHT TO KNOW

Hugo says …

Can you name the farms where your products come from ?...

Mark says …

Why hasn't WF publicly supported proposition 37? Your execs have been asked and won't comment. What gives? Look, we want CLEAN food to eat and feed our families. We are not lab rats, we don't want to be experimented on. Take the lead on this! Do the right thing, don't sell us out for GMO dollars.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MARK - We have announced support for Prop 37. Find more information on our more current blog post at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/lets-talk-about-gmos-whole-foods-market.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@HUGO - Since our products vary between regions and store locations, each facility should be able to tell you the locations where they source product.

Lee D. Gothro says …

How much has Whole Foods contributed to campaign in favor of Proposition 37 in California?

Dan Hiatt says …

Your stance for labeling GMO containing products is absurd. You put the burden of labeling on those products that don't contain GMO's, but all those that do contain GMO's just seem harmless to some consumers because there is no warning on the label. Maybe cigarettes should contain no warning about the effects of tobacco, but all of the products that don't contain tobacco should assure us that they are tobacco free. I shop at Whole Foods every week, but I'm starting to wonder. Are you just ignorant of the type af person who shops at your stores?

Pages