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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

ET says …

Shame on you for supporting coexistence and therefore paving paving the way for this decision.

ilana goldner says …

I am so concerned that Whole Food Market will be selling themselves to the deregulated Monsanto and other artificial and toxic fertilizers and herbicides that the food we buy at Whole Foods will be contaminated and we the customers will become sick with diseases such as cancer. As a consumer of Whole Foods, as long as you will be allowing deregulation I will stop buying at your stores.

Michael says …

Paige Brady, in my opinion your full of it, you can't co-exist with GMO's they will ruin all crops and must be stopped now. If you think were going to support your company anymore forget it, your history and any other company that supports GMO's in it's products or try's to Co-exist. You been warned.. the consumers have awakened and the collective co-creative consciousness will do the rest.. bah bye..

Patricia Dee says …

ABSOLUTELY NO GMO/GE alfalfa - or any crop for that matter -is the only response for a company that pretends to care about wholesome foods. Grow a pair and STAND UP and OBJECT disingenuous, bullying, and/or manipulative offers, like I'm rejecting you. If you care so much about the issue, why are GMO/GE foods contained in your "natural" foods? Your compromise is unacceptable and you are no longer worthy of my exclusive food dollars on a several-times-a-week basis. I'll find truly wholesome foods elsewhere or live without them before you receive another penny from me. Wake up and smell your dwindling loyalty. And stop feeding me the bad science bought and paid for by those who will benefit most by the proliferation of GMO/GE crops. Wake up consumers and vote with your dollars like the Europeans did. DON'T BUY OR SHOP ANYWHERE THAT SELLS THIS CRAP. Find local farms and refuse to support it with your dollars until you are assured by full disclosure labeling that it does NOT contain GMO/GE foods.

Yvonne Glashan says …

We shop at Whole Foods Market as our choice of good food, as best that we can find, other than our own organic gardens and our local organic markets. We do not want pesticide sprayed foods or Roundup GM foods. We must get back to nature if we want to survive in this toxic, greedy, Monsanto Empire, world.

Sandra I says …

Thank you for the clarifying post regarding the OCA post, but I am now really concerned about one of the comments made on it; according to the writer the OCA has tested the "natural" line of products available at Wholefoods, and they have found GMO residues... I cannot afford certified organic chicken, but I do make an effort to buy the natural chicken and beef at Wholefoods because as I have been explained repeatedly by the staff, even though they are not organic, they have not been fed antibiotics and their feed does not have chemicals and/or GMOs, according to them the difference is that the crops used to feed these animals have been free of these substances for less than the 3 years required for certification, but they are still supposed to be free of pesticides, herbicides, any other chemicals and GMO seeds.... Is this not true then?

bruce says …

I believe you sold out to monsanto, you should have fought this and prepared for everything, it wont be before the US food system colapses, and when it does i hope that you would realise there is no compromise with mother earth GM food mean gm diseaes

Mark says …

Are you kidding??? We don't want to coexist with GE crops!! We don't want them anywhere near our NATURAL food sources!!! Stop acting like you are doing something good when you are selling out!

bruce says …

when are you americans going to wake UP!! you want the whole GM food all over the world one reason why you invaded Iraqe to plant GM all over. they dont tell you that... you produce 70% GM wheat, yet you produce less wheat today than 50 yeats ago..

Julie says …

This is what I wrote and sent to a Whole Foods Store before I found this blog site: “I was shocked, saddened, sickened and then outraged at learning today that Whole Foods Market has capitulated to the pressure of Monsanto's desire to gather us all in by the use of genetically modified foods! It may have been a 12 year long struggle and worn you down, but realize now that the results will have repercussions for hundreds of times those 12 years and affect MY children as well as YOUR children and theirs in terrible, costly ways. Not only have you betrayed Earth, you have betrayed "every single one" of the customers you proclaim to "Satisfy and Delight" with your company foods and products. This is a horrifying day for the people of this country and throughout the world. You now must change your name to: "NON-Whole Foods Market" if you wish to have any sense of responsibility to customers and moreover, you owe it to each and "every single one" of them to boldly and clearly state what you have done, NOT just in a written statement, but on each and every doorway of your stores. You had the nerve to side with Monsanto, now have the nerve to let everyone know it and hopefully you will see a decrease in customers that will grow and grow and hurt you where you value most (apparently) in the financial arena. I am truly blown away by this stunning betrayal.”

Wren Osborn says …

I am vehemently opposed to any coexistence of GE crops with organic crops. It can't be done. It WILL lead to contaminated alfalfa, just as GE corn has led to contaminated corn. Super weeds, stronger herbicides, and a rise in cancer among farm workers will also result from the overuse of Roundup. You have betrayed the organic farmer and the organic consumer. I will not be shopping at your markets again. My health if vitally important to me. GE products have no place in my diet. Sincerely, Wren Osborn

charles says …

I can shop at Walmart to get my GMO organics cheaper than from Whole Foods. Also we could deregulate the NOP and coexist with our GMO neighbor farmers too. My toxic purveying neighbors are not regulated, they are just subsidized. I am a certified organic farmer, crops and livestock, meaning GMO prohibited here so my customer locavores get what they pay for.

N Moyer says …

It is sad that WFM is still focusing more on their bottom line than food safety. Shame on you, Whole Foods. Your food is no better than any other standard grocery store in the USA.

Tina Metzger says …

As we know that GMO's are transgenic, coexistance is not an option. I am deeply disappointed with Whole Foods. While I've had misgivings, I now no longer feel I can trust this company. I am discontinuing my patronage.

Jude says …

A brilliantly misleading campaign begins. WF sold out long ago & now has to sell its complete capitulation.

Richard Jennings says …

Your "coexistence" is reminiscent of the French Vichy puppet government under the Nazis in WWII. You have to know that GMOs do not increase yield or nutrition. They do increase toxic chemical use and they do randomly pollute the gene pool with no recourse for the organic farmer or for Mother Earth. Thank you for letting us know where you stand. Please tell us what your testing regime is so that you can guarantee that no GMO's are sold by your store while you coexist.

Daniel Fretto says …

The best way to advocate the decline of GMOs is to march into your local market and demand that they stop offering them. Many large natural food retailers sell alarming amounts of product made from GM crops...most of you buy it and eat it day in and out without knowing it. The reason why these retailers offer them is because YOU buy them.

Todd says …

Whole Foods - this is a betrayal. You continue to spout the BIGGEST LIE: "there are still many unanswered questions about genetic engineering". Those of us who stay informed know that study after study pour in with the same results: GMO foods result in sickness & sterility in those who consume the foods, and more notably, in the offspring of those who consume the foods. The effects of this are piling up in a tidal wave of new disease across the nation - this is not up for debate. Your attempt to convince us that you must "compromise" to reserve a seat at the table would be laughable if the consequences weren't so severe. We know what color that table is, and it isn't going to change once you're offered a seat.

Eva Lyman says …

I have been shopping at the West Vancouver, BC store for some time. I will not shop there any more if you bow to Monsanto and make your requirements less stringent and allow (unidentified on labels) GMO's! People don't want to eat that crap. We know what you are up to: first the conventional foods will be GM, then even the Organic produce little by little. I"ll be shopping at farmers' markets from now on!

Neesie says …

You have lost me as a customer.

Richard Doherty M.D. says …

Your minimal stance in terms of GMOs means that I and all of my family, friends, and patients who request nutritional advice will no longer shop at Whole Foods. Your approach to this whole matter smells of corporate business interests above all health and customer considerations. The mistake that you make is that your customers are not stupid, will not be impressed by your ridiculous email response, and will go to other vendors who are not reluctant to oppose Montsanto's very aggressive approaches which have resulted in devastating effects on small farmers throughout the world. Wake up Whole Foods ! Richard Doherty M.D.

JO-ANNE HEAD says …

Whole Foods Market needs to rename itself to Poison Foods Market. There is no Co-Existence with Monsanto. Why are you lying to us, Whole Foods Market? Monsanto GMO = POISON and we will all die from this POLLUTION. I will not shop at your store of poison any more.

paig292 says …

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/

Whitney says …

"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." This position is unacceptable for a supposed leader of the organics and GMO free movement in retail grocery. What about GMO sugar beets and GMO Salmon? GMO Beets were defeated as were other promoted GMO crops. It IS an option if you make it your business to create the option. GMO Salmon is NOT an option and neither should GE Alfalfa. I agree with the Organic Consumers Association, this is not a compromise that should be made, the USDA needs to be pressured into realizing that they need to do more than consider supporting the needs and wants of citizens for the right to clean, healthy, and unadulterated foods, and they need to MAKE it not only an option, but the only option. We should be taking GE and GMO foods OFF the market, not acquiescing to political and corporate tyrants. I hope Whole Foods will stop giving in, and start leading us out.

brant says …

It not the GMO themselves that are deadly per se, its the process that produces a deadly GMO. Read Seeds Of Destruction and investigate how they do it. Until the process is proven I will not stand for GMO in the food chain. Animals wont eat it and neither will I.

Alemeh2 says …

Americans are so dumb to believe that the Congress really care about their citizen and our kids. Whole food cave in due money and money talks. No matter how many of you complain, nothing will change. I live in the US right now and I afraid for my kids, I am afraid that the organic food I purchase is not organic at all. I miss my little town market in Italy, I miss my butcher, I miss healthy milk. Everything in this country is about money and profit, so sad.

DCDarling says …

Just letting you know, WF, that I will no longer shop at your stores. Your failure to stand strong against GM food has removed any motivation I might have once had to pay your prices. There are many lovely small local markets everywhere, and I shall patronize these exclusively henceforth. I will even give my money to Safeway and Lucky because they are honestly what they are, and have not betrayed my trust. Get a grip, WF. You may be the 800 lb gorilla in the natural foods market, but you are not the only game in town, and when you abandon the principles shared by your shoppers, we abandon you.

Paul Lacques says …

There was a third choice: fight any kind of genetically modified crops. Your capitulation is shocking. "Coexistence" is the most cynical euphemism I've ever heard. Open field GMO contamination is a historical fact. We are turning the earth into an open science lab, with utterly unpredictable results. I'm shocked.

Nikki says …

This is so messed up. We need to spread the word guys. I'm already doing research on how to grow my own food in Brooklyn NY. My soil is ready! My friends are looking into planting in their apartments too, they have all recently banned GMO foods. It's a sad day. Blessings to all with cronic immune disorders and allergies. My immune system is doing well and I no longer suffer from mysterious crippling allergies which caused permanent scars all over my body after cooking my own GMO free meals.

Lisa says …

I am extremely disappointed in Whole Foods. Consumers do NOT want altered food, period! What part of that do food producers, suppliers and our government not understand? It's not a matter of coexistence. Any third grader can tell you that bees, the wind and other pollinators don't distinguish between modified and unmodified plants. It's very basic science that teaches us about cross-pollination. Once crops and their seeds have been compromised, farmers cannot simply "un-modify" them. After the fact, it's too late. And no amount of Monsanto's dirty money will be able to undo the damage to America's food supply. Consumers voices have not been heard, we demand real food and we're not going to support any producer or supplier that doesn't provide it.

Orion says …

Dear WholeFoods, Here was your mistake. You believed this (from your blog): "Our options were to have a seat at the table (and support coexistence) or to not be represented at all." I hope the wool's off your eyes now. and you know that you were and are completely outmaneuvered. Or this appearance of " we made a noble shot at it, and it was out of our hands" was a way to shield that you've acted spinelessly and that you're having a crisis of competing values in your organization, cash bottom line vs. integrity. Audit your supply chains and ban all GMO from coming in the door, labeled or not. Without exception. There are people that can figure that out pretty easily. Put a note stating your commitment on every receipt coming out of every WholeFoods cash register around the country. If you wanted to you could. lets see it. the ball's in your court. how about 3 cents of every dollar I've ever given you going to pay some super smart mercenary lobbyist on Capitol Hill, like Monsanto does so well? If you can't outspend, please, at least, outsmart.

Jennifer S. says …

I applaud all of those constructive consumers that have already contacted their congress and/or the USDA. It seems as if people just love to be "outraged" on subjects that they don't really portray themselves to know everything about...especially if it involves an extremely successful fortune 500 company. Maybe those people that have so much to say about Whole Foods and the decisions they make should start their own Natural foods company. Sounds like they could do a better job.

Julie says …

Just wanted to say thanks for posting this!! And thanks for lying too! Now I know you are just as evil as Monsanto, and will be sure to spread the word about you....just like how you are spreading GMO's to the goods you sell. Be proud.

Kyle says …

What kind of democracy are we living when large corporation like Whole Foods and the rest of us resign to "reality." If the government does not give us the option we want then we raise our voices. I personally find Whole Foods compromise dangerous and irresponsible. How can "Coexistence" be had with a manufactured product that is so invasive, incapable of living in a natural environment without pesticides and controlled by a money-mongering company such as Monsanto? Coexistence is a farce. It's time companies like Whole Foods stand behind their values regardless of political "necessity." Sincerely Kyle

wenzday says …

How dare you put the responsibility back in the consumers lap on this, posting links for citizens to contact legislators! Whole Foods, YOU should be standing up on this issue by REFUSING to buy and sell food that comes from Monsanto seed. YOU - Whole Foods should be actively supporting local farmers by BUYING from them on a steady regular basis rather than just using local farmers as pawns in your marketing strategies. YOU have the power and responsibility to change this and it's bulls**t that you write a blog post asking customers to call and write to congress. Why don't you write a blog post that outlines the measures that YOU take to ensure that you are not financially supporting Monsanto by buying food that comes from their genetically engineered seed? What policies does Whole Foods have about buying food that contains GE crops or ingredients?? That's what I want to know. What are YOU doing about this?

Sol McKenna says …

I was extremely saddened to hear about Whole Foods as well as Stoneyfield Farms going into bed with Monsanto. I understand the predicament, I understand the enormous pressure, however I now have to stop shopping at WFM and stop supporting my favorite yoghurt from Stonyfield. I have been a loyal customer for over 10 years, spending thousands of dollars and speaking highly of Whole Foods. I now along with the 4500 of my blog fans and supporters will no longer shop at WFM. We can't go down one aisle and see Fair Trade Coffee and then on the next aisle have foods that are supporting Monsanto, a reckless company with no regard for the delicate balance of this planet, ignorantly thinking they have figured out "a solution" not mentioning it will have terrible consequences. We now know Monsanto's "roundup" seed causes a great spread of cancer, in humans and animals. I am sorry Whole Foods, I went into your stores for the last time. As humans, we are either a part of the solution or a part of the problem, it is purely a moral choice. I am responsible for mine, and so are the 4500 people joining me. You will now loose our business. I am sorry.

shelley lawrence says …

So what you are ACTUALLY saying here, albeit in the most encrypted way possible, is that you are in fact ready t support deregulation to some extent. Conditional deregulation is the beginning of the end.

Katrina says …

I have been a supporter of Whole Foods for many years, but I feel compelled to stop shopping there because of your stance on GMO's. You're being hypocritical when you say you are against them in your foods and you strive to make sure they are labeled as such, but then you take the stance of "coexistence"? I don't understand. Unless you're in the deep pockets of this company, I don't understand how you can take this stance. IMO, GMO's have absolutely NO PLACE in our food chain. As a healthcare provider, I see only grave danger ahead for all humans if this is to move forward. As well as a death for our bees who are already struggling to survive. Sometimes I wonder if there is already GMO alfalfa planted and causing the collapse of the bee hives.

Bobbi says …

I don't think the OCA misunderstood, I think their point is that there's no such thing as 'coexistence' when it comes to cross-pollination. The documentary The World According to Monsanto contains a section about corn, in which they discuss the fact that native corn in Mexico has been contaminated with GM pollen. There's no disputing that fact, just as there's no disputing the fact that 'coexistence' isn't possible in the case of air-pollinated crops.

Jason says …

Whole Foods has outgrown itself and now is beholden to the dollar (like all big business) rather than the health and safety of its customers. But their ARE alternatives to shopping at whole foods! Instead of shopping at Whole Foods, I purchase a local CSA (community supported agriculture) share and buy products at my local health-food co-op. I suggest all that can do the same. Now most of my produce is not only organic and GMO-free but also produced within a reasonable distance of where I live and my dollars support my community and not WF's stock holders. Supporting co-ops, local health food stores and CSAs are one way to show you care about these issues and make sure healthy and sustainable food is available to us. Oh, and these are all usually cheaper than whole foods!

paig292 says …

WHOLE FOODS MARKET RESPONDS: Thank you for being passionate about genetically engineered (GE or GMO) crops and for expressing your concern about the availability of non-GMO foods. We are very passionate about this too and are extremely upset that our position has been distorted out there. Don’t be fooled by the OCA (Organic Consumers Association) as it often twists the truth, which confuses consumers. This time, OCA is misleading you by implying that we have “surrendered” to Monsanto and “cut a deal” for co-existence and that we’ll receive “compensation.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Whole Foods Market, along with the National Cooperative Grocers Association, the National Organic Coalition, the Organic Trade Association, Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farms, United Natural Foods and many others in the organic community, were trying to secure protections for organic farmers so biotechnology companies for the first time would be held accountable if GE crops polluted non-GE crops and would be forced to pay for the damages. (No money would ever go to us!) We were also pushing for measures to protect seed purity so that non-GE alfalfa supplies could be maintained. Unfortunately, none of those protections were approved as, to our utter disappointment, the USDA decided to completely deregulate GE alfalfa without restrictions. This means farmers will now be able to plant Roundup Ready GE alfalfa beginning as soon as this spring without having to take into consideration its potential to contaminate neighboring organic and other non-GE alfalfa fields intended to be sold in markets demanding non-genetically engineered products. This is a huge loss for organic and non-GE farmers and consumers who want to have access to non-GE foods. For the OCA to widely spread misinformation and lies about Whole Foods Market and other organic companies by saying that we are joining forces with the biotechnology industry (Monsanto) is beyond ludicrous--especially at a time when we all need to come together to support our goal of ensuring the availability of non-GE foods in the marketplace. To help clarify our overall position, we think it is helpful to see how Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the NON-GMO Project, describes the coalition efforts: "Leading up to the ruling, a broad coalition of organic organizations and companies were working around the clock in an attempt to influence the USDA’s decision. The USDA had already made it clear that alfalfa would be deregulated, but hope remained that there might be some way to soften the blow. Organic Valley, Whole Foods and Stonyfield Farm, along with many others in the organic community, were doing everything in their power to secure protections for organic farmers so that if their fields were contaminated once the GMO alfalfa was released, biotechnology companies for the first time would be held accountable for their pollution and would be forced to pay for the damages. These groups were also pushing for measures to protect seed purity so that non-GMO alfalfa supplies could be maintained. Unfathomably, these tireless organic organizations are now being criticized for their efforts. In total denial of the incontrovertible fact that the USDA was never even remotely considering a full ban on GMO alfalfa, some are suggesting that these group’s efforts to make the most of a bad situation *somehow* (though no one is very specific on how, exactly) signals corruption, and are even calling for boycotts. HOW ON EARTH is taking this out on 1200 organic family farmers going to help anything?! This is divisiveness we cannot afford." You can read the full article here: http://www.nongmoproject.org/2011/01/29/team-organic-will-never-surrender-to-monsanto-now-we-continue-the-fight-together/ Additionally, you may have seen strange accusations saying that Whole Foods Market has agreed to sell genetically engineered foods. We haven’t agreed to anything! This is another attempt to twist the facts. The reality is that no grocery store in the United States, no matter what size or type of business, can claim they are GMO-free. While we have been and will continue to be staunch supporters of non-GMO foods, we are not going to mislead our customers with an inaccurate claim (and you should question anyone who does). Here’s why: the pervasive planting of GMO crops in the U.S. and their subsequent use in our national food supply. 93% of soy, 86% of corn, 93% of cotton, and 93% of canola seed planted in the U.S. in 2010 were genetically engineered. Since these crops are commonly present in a wide variety of foods, a GMO-free store is currently not possible in the U.S. (unless the store sells only organic foods.) Since the U. S. national organic standards do not allow the use of GMO ingredients and practices in the growing or production of organic foods, choosing organic is one way consumers can avoid GMO foods. The other is through labeling, of which we are strong supporters. Here is a look at some of the other things we have done on the non-GE front over the past couple of decades: •We have advocated for mandatory labeling of GMO foods since 1992, even before they were made commercially available. •We were founding members of the Non-GMO Project, which works to ensure the sustained availability of non-GMO choices through an industry-wide product standard to create a non-GMO labeling program that can be fully substantiated. •Our 365 Everyday Value® and Whole Foods Market™ brand products are sourced to avoid GMOS, and our partnership with the Non-GMO Project will enable us to verify and label both natural and organic products. In fact, we have enrolled our store brand food products in this pioneering product verification program, which ensures the sustained availability of non-GMO choices through an industry-wide product standard. These include products that natural as well as those that are organic. •Beyond our stores, we have publicly advocated for clear labeling of GE food and shared our concerns that the USDA and FDA’s policies on GE foods are not consistent with our consumers’ expectations. We will continue to work aggressively on this issue because we believe that GMO food ingredients should be clearly labeled, and that consumers who want to avoid them should have an actionable way to do so. While the USDA’s decision will make our work more difficult, we are as committed as ever to ensuring that non-GMO food remains available and we will continue to advocate for our farmers and for our shoppers on this issue.

paig292 says …

If you haven't yet read our response to the OCA accusations, please click here: http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2011/01/urgent-action-needed-to-support-organics-and-non-ge-crops/comment-page-5/#comment-94683

Cynthia says …

The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto. What next? I want you to know that I am OUTRAGED! This is a promise, I will NEVER buy any of your store brand products, including Organic Valley and Stonyfield ever again. I will not hesitate to tell everyone your stance on GMO Alpha. Your so called “co-existence” with Monsanto is totally UNACCEPTABLE and cannot be tolerated! Good Riddance. I bought all your products for years and also recommended it to others. NO MORE! I will not support traitor companies like you. You are a sellout.

Kiki Stoll says …

There is no way to coexist with GMO's because they would eventually take over all crops.

Jacob Devaney says …

We have shopped at Whole Foods despite slightly higher prices because we believe in what you and organic stands for. Please stay strong in this fight against Monsanto. Your customer base and our planet is counting on YOU!!

Jacqueline Gerval says …

I didn't know about this voting trying to let Monsanto get all the seeds to make Genetically Modified produce. What is going on with this insanity! Who is protecting Americans from this? Even though I am late I wiil start monitoring this issue and write my congresswoman.

Jenny says …

Does the FDA not care about Americans? What are they thinking? Instead of modifying our food I'd think they'd be more concerned in keeping us healthy. I presume a lot of these decision-makers are young & have no children to worry over to be eating the dead food we'll be exposed to. I appreciate Whole Foods market for their concern & loyalty in striving to keep out generically engineered alfalfa crops! Jenny

Kate Smith says …

Will Whole Foods be carrying products which are grown from Montsanto seeds? I was in the store today and noticed produce marked "organic" but not "certified organic", as well, this was disappointing.

Debbie Rossi says …

Is it true?? Your disappointment was short lived and you are compromising with Monsanto?? http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/organic-elite-surrenders-to-monsanto/

Peter says …

After your ‘caving’ to Monsanto, I won’t be shopping at Whole Foods anymore.

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