Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

USDA Disappoints: No Regulations on GE Alfalfa

It is difficult to express how disappointed we are by the USDA’s decision to completely deregulate genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa without restrictions. This news means farmers will now be able to plant Roundup Ready GE alfalfa without restrictions, beginning as soon as this spring. The USDA had been considering two potential decisions on this issue – either full deregulation or deregulation with restrictions. The latter would have set rules to protect non-GE crops from contamination. While Whole Foods Market and other advocates for non-GE and organic foods feel the USDA’s deregulation decision is a setback, we will continue the fight for the protection of non-GE food, as we have ever since genetically engineered crops first appeared in the marketplace. Whole Foods Market advocated strongly for deregulation with restrictions to preserve the ability of non-GE and organic growers to avoid contamination. It seemed that the USDA was finally recognizing that cross-contamination of GE alfalfa could potentially impact organic and non-GE farmers and consumers, both domestically and for our export markets. In fact, by inviting non-GE industry members to D.C. to discuss this issue, it appeared as though the USDA was acknowledging that organic and non-GE agriculture has the right to not only survive, but to thrive alongside GE agriculture. Unfortunately, the USDA’s decision fell far short of this mark, and we believe that unrestricted planting of GE alfalfa without setting any clear coexistence framework, with thresholds for contamination and providing for ongoing testing and verification, is irresponsible. As true advocates of non-GE foods, we had hoped for far better from this process. Here is a post on Samuel Fromartz's Chewswise blog that does a good job of describing the potential fallout. And this blog from the Non-GMO Project website responds to "the misguided distress expressed by the Organic Consumers Association and others in the last two days since the USDA announced deregulation of GMO alfalfa." Many people have asked us why we endorsed the coexistence option rather than an outright ban on GE alfalfa. That was never an option in Washington!  The USDA presented the industry with only two options that they were considering– deregulation and deregulation with restrictions. Given the pervasive planting of GE crops in the U.S. – 93% of soy, 86% of corn, 93% of cotton and 93% of canola seed planted were genetically engineered in the U.S. in 2010 – the option of an outright ban was not on the table. Whole Foods Market — along with the National Cooperative Grocers Association, the National Organic Coalition, the Organic Trade Association, and other companies and groups — endorsed the path of deregulation with restrictions, or coexistence, not because it was a perfect path, but because it was a path to create meaningful change right now in the regulating of genetically engineered foods and the protection of non-GE foods. Because we supported the USDA’s approach of coexistence, certain consumer groups misunderstood our efforts and accused us of supporting big biotech, endorsing the proliferation of GE crops, and turning our backs on our shoppers’ and their desire to avoid GE food. Nothing could be further from the truth! Whole Foods Market has been a staunch supporter of non-GE foods in the marketplace.  We have taken a strong and visible stance on biotechnology in agriculture, and will continue to do so. 
  • We believe that GE food should be clearly labeled, and that the USDA and FDA’s policies on GE foods are not consistent with our consumers’ expectations.
  • Since 1992, before GE crops were even commercialized, we have been educating and advocating on this issue, and we will continue to pursue our right to sell non-GE food.
  • We are proud to be a founding leader of The Non-GMO Project, which works to ensure the sustained availability of non-GMO choices through an industry-wide product standard. (Genetically engineered and Genetically Modified Organism — GMOs — are used interchangeably.)
  • We are committed to sourcing our store brand products to avoid GE ingredients, and we will continue to fight for strong organic standards that do not allow the use of GE crops.
  • We support the National Organic Standards, which prohibit GMOs in organics, and we champion informed consumer choice with regard to GMOs.
  • Our 365 Everyday Value® and Whole Foods Market™ brand products are sourced to avoid ingredients grown from genetically engineered seed, and our partnership with the Non-GMO Project will enable us to verify and label these products.
We will continue to work aggressively on this issue because we believe that GE food ingredients should be clearly labeled, and that consumers who want to avoid them should have an actionable way to do so. While yesterday’s decision will make our work more difficult, we are as committed as ever to ensuring that non-GE food remains available and we will continue to advocate for our farmers and for our shoppers on this issue.

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218 comments

Comments

Sally Blakemore says …

What a crock. I remember the FIRST WHOLE FOODS store in Austin, Texas. It started small and kept its focus, organic and bulk foods for healthy eating. What Whole Foods has become, an over decorated hog farm for the rich, is really quite disgusting in a nation of hungry children. And so to pretend you are not right in there with the government is pathetic. Take some real action. No one I know is going to shop at your store after your announcement, so maybe you will be small and with a pure intention again. While McDonald's tries to take the Chinese market, contaminating their beautiful foods so fresh and family farm raised, I can see Whole Foods changing its name to McFoods Markets. A sell out is a sell out and the veil of lies has been lifted.

Ruth Ann Carter says …

Dear WFM: Thank you for "The Whole Story" and the clarification of your positions stated therein. I chose to live across the street from your West Bloomfield, MI WFM and have exclusively shopped organic there since early 2000. In my opinion, the responsibility for this lies first with President Obama, who should never have appointed Mr. Vilsack to head the USDA because he should have known or been advised that Monsanto has contributed millions to Vilsack, which makes it not a bit surprising that Vilsack is now proceeding, in time for spring planting, to lead the USDA in choosing complete deregulation of GE alfalfa. Secondly, I feel that the fault also lies with certain folks at the USDA and Vilsack, who appear to want to help companies like Monsanto eliminate American and world access to organic food and replace it with their GE products more than they want to safeguard the American food supply. It is my hope that the Center for Food Safety and its co-plaintiffs will immediately seek an injunction against the USDA and Vilsack until scientific study and analysis and public input are all carefully considered; and that in the meantime, President Obama decides to ask Mr. Vilsack to resign for disregarding a federal court order and replaces him with someone who cares about safeguarding our food more than he cares about giving away our food safety to Monsanto et al.

Mark Peer says …

Clearly your tactics in negotiation are lacking. In the real world you have to fight for the best possible outcome although you may have to compromise. By succumbing to regulation rather than the total ban of GE crops you set yourself up for total loss. That is exactly what happened, complete deregulation. Now we are going to have to wait until the systemic diseases caused by the forced mutation of food/feed plant genes are identified and proven beyond a shadow of doubt before meaningful changes are made. Or will we? I suppose a next step is to fight for a warning label identifying all GM ingredients (like tobacco products) on all food/feed grade ingredients. It's a seemingly impossible battle to win, yet we need to set a lofty goal to keep a law from being enacted preventing a non-GMO label. For those interested in how to win this battle read the ancient text "THE ART OF WAR".The opposing forces are professional at using these tactics and a few ragtag corps with several activists do not stand a chance. From that very text the idea " divide and conquer" is similar to Friedrich Nietzsche's quote "The best weapon against an enemy is another enemy." Apparently, that is happening at this very moment. Napoleon Bonaparte used to say "never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake." Tactical errors were made and if the parties responsible cast away their egos and acknowledge their mistakes, all of us will learn, forgive and reunite to fight the next battle. Infighting only hurts the cause, the previous battle was lost get over it and regroup for the next attack.

Mia says …

I am no longer a whole foods customer. I am not alone. I don't think you'll go under or anything, but you created a trust with your customers. And you have violated it again. Nobody who truly supports organics would approve of ANYTHING that could compromise that. EVER. We all know what's happened with corn. And that grows in a more contained way. This is tragic. Truly sad. Your are officially just another corporate monster, as if you weren't already. Thanks for confirming all doubts about that.

New WF Shopper says …

One of the big reasons that I'm switching to Whole Foods is your stance on GE foods. I don't like the idea and I'll do anything to avoid them. I'm actually quite frightened of this turn of events. How will this affect my Whole Foods shopping experience? Can I be confident in the organic products and meats that I buy? I'm worried.

JC says …

Why don't you push your resources toward truth-in-labeling? If you are so against GMOs why do you insist on so many of your pre-made items are cooked with Canola oil?

andy says …

Wow. All of you people are just moaning and complaing because you want someone else to think for you. To tell you what to do. To make the decision for you. Grow up. The majority of you on this comment list support the destruction of your health and the environment everyday. The majority of the consumer products you by are made out of petroleum anyway. The make-up you wear, the cars you drive, the clothes you wear. All are your choices just like your food. To say that it is any companys fault that you have to eat GMO food is ridiculous. Open your eyes. Make your own choices. Realise that organic company's are just a few fighting a war against thousands. You're ignorant comments and abandonment of Whole Foods is only hurting the organic industry. So many of you claim to know how horrible Monsanto and similiar comapanys are. If you're so educated about the topic then you would relaise how hard it is to fight them. How those companys will stop at nothing to make their money. Stick together people and quit crying everytime you read something on the interent. Get out of your SUV's, take your blue tooths out of your ears, quit staring at your I-phones and take charge of yourselves.

Liana Hoodes says …

Setting the Record Straight from the National Organic Coalition: "While the National Organic Coalition (NOC) was at the table, and attempted to reach some consensus points, consensus was never reached. The National Organic Coalition has never endorsed "co-existence". In fact, we have specifically been very vocal in noting that any discussion of "co-existence" can not even begin before A Contamination Prevention Plan is developed, including all of the following 7 points: Prior to any de-regulation of new genetically-engineered crops, or discussions of “Co-Existence” of GE and non-GE, the following 7 points must be addressed transparently and fairly (for all stakeholders involved). See NOC’s Contamination Prevention Plan: [http://www.nationalorganiccoalition.org/GMO/GMOContaminationPrevention.pdf] for details. 1.Establish a USDA Public Breeds Institute to ensure that the public has access to high quality non-GMO breeds and germplasm. 2.Create a Contamination Compensation Fund [see NOC’s Draft proposal at: http://www.nationalorganiccoalition.org/GEAlfalfa/ProposedCompensationPlan.pdf] , funded by GMO patent holders, to provide immediate assistance to persons contaminated by GMOs, from seed to table. 3.Complete elimination of deregulated GM crop status, including prior deregulations, with on-going oversight and public evaluation of compliance and enforcement. 4.Conduct comprehensive, independent, longitudinal studies on the health, environmental, and socio-economic impacts of GMOs, prior to GM crop approvals. 5.Prohibit the growing of promiscuous GM crops that are likely to cause GMO contamination. 6.Prevent food security risks associated with the concentration of our food system in the hands of a few companies. 7.Institute an immediate labeling protocol for all GM crops, products, and ingredients.

Melissa says …

I am sad that I read so many nasty comments. Your anger should not be at a company that for years has been fighting and supporting organics and non gmo's and the health of our planet. Whole Foods has been trying to work within a coruupt system to change things and has made great strides at changing organic practices ( would walmart be selling organics if it had not been for whole foods?)and Animal welfare practices. Your anger and energy should be at all the sold out polititions who pass these laws including the president. Untill we stand up to this mass coruuption it will just get worse.

Sue says …

You've lost me as a customer. I will take my $200 / week to my farmers market and small local organic store. I'm shocked that WF is unwilling to stand and fight for the integrity of organic foods.

Scott Powell says …

WFM and the consortium, don't you guys look like a bunch of suckers now! Your duty as organic stewards should be that GMO's should be banned completely! There is no co-existence because eventually the GMO/Roundup will take over and destroy the land, then you have nothing. Monsatan can not dictate the terms of our existence! WFM your biggest fail is that you didn't stand up for what you supposedly believe in - NO GMO'S!!!!

Stephen Davis says …

I didn't know we were limited to just the "options" Vilsack and the agribusiness lobby give us. Why do you make it seem like you were forced to endorse "coexistence". You obviously had a choice, and you chose wrong. Your attempts to backpedal make you seem desperate.

paig292 says …

If you haven't read our response to the OCA accusations, please click this: http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2011/01/no-regulations-ge-alfalfa/comment-page-2/#comment-94678

David Strohm says …

Wow. I have been shopping at Whole Foods for 19 years. And I have to say your response to the GMO Alfalfa crisis is chilling. Good bye. It's been real

Robert says …

Will you continue to sell products made with soy, corn or canola? Why not take a stand and stop carrying those products!! I was a loyal WFM customer, but I'm going to start shopping at my local farmers market for my produce, meat and eggs.

Mark Peer says …

Imagine my surprise when I opened my email from the Whole Food blog today. I thought wow, they must have read my earlier comment and are responding to some of the points I brought up. This company is really on their toes. Instead I reread information in a form letter attacking the organic consumers association. BTW if anyone read what I wrote they should have understood I had already seen both sides of the little tiff between two groups who are supposed to be fighting for the same cause. Obviously my earlier post about unity among the various factions within the organic community was for the most part ignored. I understand Whole foods tries to do the right thing and however on tries, you cannot please everyone. I really have no problem with Whole Foods or the Organic Consumers Association, I just wish those who made errors in judgement and those who made negotiation mistakes would just admit they were wrong so we all can move on and win this GMO war. Save the petty infighting and "he said she said" dribble for the gossip columnists and tabloids. The pro GMO forces are waging war and some of you people are bickering about things that have been decided already. We need to get cracking on this or the next battle will be lost before it begins. Whole Foods, please don't send me form letters. I'll welcome constructive dialog on this, but I get enough form letters from congress and senators. I have read most of what is in those letters long before I see them anyway.

Melisa Hanson says …

There is no co-existence when it comes to pollen! Your Corporation isn't good enough for me anymore. Community supported ag!

former whole foods consumer says …

Why does Whole Foods state to its readers that the government has two options: 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 Whole Foods then states, "This second 'coexistence' option is what we are rallying for even though we continue to have reservations about GE crops." Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farms made a similar concession on his company blog, stating: "our best chance at preserving the future of organic agriculture is to fight for every protection available under the "coexistence" approach." George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley, followed suit on his company's press page, saying, "We will keep engaging and challenging the USDA in a true and meaningful conversation about coexistence and protection of non-GMO farming." What?! That's it? The nation's biggest purveyors of supposedly all-organic food are conceding the fight against GE alfalfa just like that? Instead of using their buying power to protect organic growers, these CEOs seem to have forgotten the third and ONLY option for protecting organic companies and consumers--UPHOLDING THE BAN ON MONSANTO'S GE ALFALFA IN ANY SCENARIO! In just five short years the organic labels that these companies claim to value so highly could be rendered essentially meaningless. Many of us are done with these corporate cronys. We know whats up. Don't play us for fools Whole Foods! x-(

Brian says …

With all due respect I do not buy this at all. As an organic seed grower my livelihood is more at risk then it has ever been. And this is just my Livelihood without bringing to light the gross negligence towards the health of humans, other animals, pollinators, etc etc. What I believe is that you and the other 2 are Very Big Corporations. This said, what you could have done, what you Should have done, is let all your supporters know Exactly what was on the table Before a decision was reached, taken a firm stand, and begged everyone to jump on board. I imagine that 2-4million people inundating the USDA and the White House with calls and comments would have made much more of an impact then a mere 200,000. What you did instead is protect your interests. When will people understand this? In the end it comes down to the bottom line of profit and protecting your business. Do you want to protect yourselves by making sure that USDA certified organic allows a minimum GE contamination before the bottom drops out? Do you want to reach out to what you see as the inevitable takeover by Monsanto? After all they did say that what they want in the end IS contamination so that the issue of them being stopped or regulated becomes nonsensical. OCA did NOT cause the divide. You did. You made a gross error in judgment by refusing to take a Strong stand for what you purport to believe in, and in deciding FOR your supporters/followers/consumers instead of With them. If you believe as you said that Organics should support one another, the first thing to be done is for you, Stonyfield, and Organic Valley to apologize.

GMOfree says …

As I see it, WFM tried to make a deal with the devil, and got their throats slit in the process. Vilsack is a Monsanto man, and he tricked WFM into betraying the hard core non-gmo movement, all the while knowing which way he would decide and that and that by suckering WFM into believing he might compromise, it would divide people. The GE lobby is so huge, only if we all stick together and say not no but heck no do we have a chance. WF now has to prove they are "true advocates of non-GE foods", grow a backbone and take a stand against them and with the people. That being said, this is more Obama's fault than anything as he is the decider in chief. I didn't vote for Obama, but I'm sure the people voting for him didn't think he would be appointing commizar Vilsack to push Monsanto and the whole GMO agenda. I guess we are all going to need health care when we are all sick from the GMO's we will be unable to avoid soon. I will still shop at whole foods, but only their organic and 365 brands that are sourced NON GMO because the other health food stores are so much more expensive, and the local conventianal supermarket has only maybe 10 products that are organic in the whole store and only lettuce and carrots for organic produce. I'm also curious, does wf use non-gmo ingredients for its prepared food. I had always assumed so considering they are "true advocates of non-GE foods" but now that I think about it, a clarification in the prepared foods policy is needed. How about an information booth at the prepared food desribing what gmo's are and why they are not in the food? As an advocate of non-gmo, helping to educate more people and taking a stronger NON GMO stance would help us get to the tipping point where consumers will drive the corporations away from GMO. One of the best resources out there is http://www.responsibletechnology.org for more information on this subject.

Doc says …

Okay, let's step back and take another look at this. First of all the USDA no longer represents what was the Constitutional Government. That may very well be totally gone. USDA represents the Federal Corporation... you may check this at:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/28/usc_sec_28_00003002----000-.html Where as a definition, number 15 states that the United States is 1)a Federal Corporation. As such the USDA and the rest of our government is no longer a representative government ... unless you consider our government representing monsanto as representative. Therefore as much as I too would like to point a finger at WFM.. I do believe there was indeed little choice in the matter. Our congress for example has its little hearings and they are scripted in advance so it looks like they are representing us... this has been true for some years/decades. As a corporation the Government of the United States is no longer interested in the Constitution except when it serves them to do so. Those times are becoming less and less. We are in a fascist regime... wherein the citizen is nearly a slave. Recall Cogress has made it perfectly clear that a corporation has far more rights than a citizen. It is my opinion based on these facts that WFM could have done more as could anyone of us... we are all to blame for not standing up... and it is possible that the standing up should have happened in the 60's or at least seventies... the Gov. has given just enough to pacify and really gave nothing at all. (As with the civil rights movement). So typical of those in hiding... whose real agenda slowly and carefully comes to a head...So, all of this is no surprise... Remember Jay Leno said in his monologue shortly after we illegally invaded Iraq, "We may as well give Iraq our Constitution, after all we're not using it!"

China Marbles says …

You were not given a total ban option?? Then you should have demanded a total ban option. You join the GMO crowd by default. It is either yes or no. You are trying to justify your lukewarm,CYA position with a lot of double-speak and circular reasoning.

TruthSeeker says …

Oh, PLEASE!!!! Whole Foods is the NEW SAFEWAY! You don't get a Pass on this one WHOLE FOODS... you're now WHOLE(GMO)FOODS in my book. As a Naturopath, I was DISGUSTED when you folded under pressure and DISCONTINUED selling RAW MILK. SHAME ON YOU WHOLE(GMO)FOODS!! Shame on you! This latest is the next extension of CODEX ALIMENTARIUS United Nations (WHO)ATTACK - Nothing less than ACT OF WAR on the People. Global DePopulation at work. It must be treated as such. The SYSTEM is ONLY working for the Corporate CRIMINALS - The MONSANTO MONSTERS, etc. It is time for the People to WAKE UP to this OUTRAGE - their Health and Well being and even continued Existence depends on it. It is time to take this to the STREET. It is time to DEMAND a REAL INVESTIGATION into the USDA and FDA - they are NOT working on behalf of the American People - they are Serving a Foreign POWER - this is TREASON and must be Recognized as SUCH. Wake up WHOLE(GMO)FOODS and REALLY join the FIGHT. No time for COWARDS and LIARS in the FIGHT FOR TRUTH and HEALTH.

featherhead says …

My dollar votes now go elsewhere. Support your local farm stands and CSA. WF: you know you could have made a difference. There is always another choice and no matter how deep MonSatan's pockets may be, they rely on the people to buy their tainted and damaging products. If WF wants to escape this mess (the damage control is already kicking into overdrive, BTW) you need to shoot for complete transparancy in labeling. Otherwise, everything you say and do from this point onward is just lip service. Folks, it's time to start storing up those heirloom seeds.

bruce says …

Dont tell us tell your US goverment

TSGordon says …

Immediately, upon reading the news flash from OCA, I was very disappointed at Whole Foods for evidently backing down on this super critical issue. Perhaps now this event can be leveraged forward to create even more opposition to this absurd practice of allowing the biotechs to run roughshod over all of humanity. Our numbers 'had better be increasing,' and those farmers who's lives have been wiped-out, such as my friend who lost hundreds of thousands of acres of ruined 'BT Cotton-land had better be featured in prominent US and World news articles.

Townes says …

The GE camel's nose is under the tent now. Before long the tent will be full of camels. You cannot 'make deals' with people whose purpose is to destroy natural foods through cross pollination order to make you have to use their Seeds which produce non seed bearing plants and Roundup. All of your natural food producers should ban together and form a class action lawsuit on Monsanto. Compromise is not an option, unless you want to lose your organic foods status.

pdaddy says …

Look people, it's about money, power and greed and MONSANTO et.al. have placed all of their cronies in high positions in literally every aspect of food production and consumption even the little "co-ops" out there that one would think are too small to even bother with. When YOUR government is no longer working for YOU, then it is time to revolt plain and simple and they don't want a peaceful resolution so to everyone who is attacking Whole Foods and other such companies, why don't you get off your asses and get in the fight yourself. The time for peaceful negotiations is over 'cause they won't settle for that. We all know that Monsanto, DuPont, Wal-mart, FDA, USDA, the FED...all them have the same objectives. I know it's more convenient to stay in your whole and think that revolution is not the answer so remember JFK's words: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable". THEY DON'T WANT PEACEFUL REVOLUTIONS!! It's time to make a hard decision people; it really is. You're either a slave to them or a master of yourself. Choose one!

Adam says …

The FDA, and the USDA are run by criminals.

burt says …

I see crap in wholefoods everyday-tell me, where do you get the raw materials for your prepared foods yup-same place as food lion

Mark says …

Due to your surrender to the Monsanto-run USDA, I cannot, in good conscience trust your judgment as to what constitutes good Organic, or Natural foods. You have lost my business, and my respect with this surrender to those who are poisoning the world's food supply.

charles says …

Be honest. get back in the fight. You deleted the previous comments (my comment therein) and are now posting only what serves your company. How soon will my comment be deleted as happened on the previous comments on this same topic from 1/21 and 1/28.. I see some comments that should have been moderated and deleted on this current comment list. Therefore "l love Whole Foods" I am campaigning to "Save Whole Foods". This is not going away because it has erupted in a cleansing way to delineate who is organic and who fights the GMO contamination with out any tolerances via Non Gmo verifications. We organic producers/consumers read labels and discriminate exceedingly. Successful organic marketing must be truthful in its labels and marketing claims. So then, the QAI labels are they real because after all the National Sanitary Foundation (NSF) owns them. Many of the mainstream retailers Whole Foods, Wal Mart etc. use QAI certified USDA organic labels on products from China. The Chinese Organic Standards are more stict than the US NOP. I would buy Chinese certified products. Does organic alfalfa come from China certified by ECOCERT (France) and IMO (Switzerland) really contain GMO's? Unfortunately U.S.retailers are exempt from USDA/NOP regulations so that is besides the point and this comment should be deleted because the management team says it is off topic. I am not disappointed with the USDA regulations because the USDA did what I fully expected by deregulating GE Alfalfa. I register my dissent to your approach to solving this problem. HUH Think

Suzy sturm says …

Go to farm wars.com for amazing article showing that the OCA is supported financially by big pharma and the Rockefeller foundation. You should send this article to all of your front line employees.

NoGMOSeeds says …

The people need to contact State and Provincial officials to outright ban GMO Seeds from use in their own States and Provinces.

bill p says …

keep on fighting...its a massive takeover of everything that is sacred

Ladd says …

Here's how WH can take an immediate stand. Immediately, remove any product from your stores that is known to contain GMO or has not been verified to be non-GMO. This would send an extraordinary message to all your loyal customers, to the agriculture community, to the business world, to the USDA, to President Obama and to the world. This would significantly raise to the awareness of millions of people who have no clue what GMO is, and educate them on this issue. Is WH that bold?

Jeff says …

I am not happy about the USDA's decision. I don't blame WFM or George Simons at Organic Valley as you were out spent...this time! Get back in the fight. I will support your stores even more as/if the fight continues. We should all vote with our pocket books and support organic products. Also, we need to get the word out to all media sources that this is happening in our own country!

Katrina says …

WFM is a hypocrite! 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”? Perhaps you’re in the deep pockets of this company, I don’t understand how you can take this stance. GMO’s have absolutely NO PLACE in our food chain and as a healthcare provider, I see only grave danger ahead for all mankind and animal if this is to move forward. Not to mention the death of the honey 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. I spoke to three of your employees about this yesterday and NONE of them understand their companies stand. NONE OF THEM! I don't trust you anymore.

Rosemary Daly-Camacho says …

Dear Whole Foods, If you truly wanted to put your money where your mouth is, then you should use much stronger language than " we will avoid ingredients from GE seeds. You know very well that since there is such a high percentage of GE seeds used in corn, canola, cotton and soy, that your "natural products will be contaminated. Why do you even carry those products! If you really believe that you are a strong advocate for farmers and shoppers, than refuse to carry natural products. While in the past, I would tell all my friends and patients to shop how Whole Foods, I am now promoting total boycott. Whole Foods along with the other major organic corporations need to act now. Until then, I will continue to only support my small organic grocery and farmers. Sincerely, Rosemary Daly-Camacho, DO

Dan John says …

Well, I'm very concerned. There are many questions about whether the WF Model of capitalism can weather the storm. I've been a strong supporter of WFM and plan to continue to shop there at times, for now. But I'm very concerned that--as a company that is making a pretty good profit these days--why is it not even more actively doing what it can to protect the food it sells? If WFM can no longer guarantee to me, who am paying a higher dollar, that its 'natural' and 'organic' products aren't contaminated with GMOs, then I might as well buy them elsewhere. I might as well "cave" too. If WF doesn't fight this at all levels, I'd rather be shopping at my local Co-op. Give me reason to shop with you WF, and make be believe in conscientious capitalism. I have my doubts right now.

Lana Kelley says …

How about labelling all products in your stores that contain genetically modified ingredients? Let the people choose! I travel farther to get to WFM just to buy organic food. Most of what you sell is "conventional" which is what I could buy in more convenient grocery stores. How much of these products are GMO-contaminated? I pay a premium to shop at your store, and I expect you to step up to the challenge of supporting organic agriculture by sourcing MOST of your products from organic growers/producers and by using your voice in Washington and in state governments. Don't throw up your hands -- fight the good fight for all of us!

Dena says …

I am very upset at Whole Foods decision to announce that you support "coexistence" with Monsanto. I am having a very hard time stepping into your store right now. "Coexistence"? Really, I could shop directly to farms and farmers at the farmer's markets for meat and produce. I am not giving in the towel to Monsanto. If a big company like yours gives in, where does that leave the rest of us who day in and day out literally bought in to the fact that you were the "good guy," and that by shopping at your store I was saying "no" to GMOs. Now, I wonder if you really are living your core values on this one. We were in your store nearly everyday spending a lot of money. Now, I can hardly cross the threshold, I am so upset!

party pooper says …

If you really want to fight GM products, boycott 'em!

Mia says …

You should be committed to fighting for a ban on all GM crops. You have the money and power to do so. It's such a disappointment to see you give up. And giving in to co-existence is giving up because the GM crops will soon contaminate the organics!

jill rose says …

I have questions. I have serious chemical sensitivities. For example, I cannot spend any time in a tire store without becoming ill from the horrible rubber smell. Others may not notice it, but to me it is disabling. I have had chronic sinus infections requiring months of antibiotics after spending 20 minutes in a tire store. I also have many allergies to food and pollen, dust and molds. And I have become sensitive to gluten. My diet and activities are definitely limited by my health concerns. I try very hard not to be exposed to those things that bother me, I try to eat only organic foods, and I take allergy injections to try to lessen the effects of allergens. I am so distressed by this because I have been counting on being able to know what is in my food, to be able to take care of myself by not ingesting what could be harmful to me. I won't know what is in genetically modified food. I won't know if it will harm me. And as I am becoming more and more super-sensitive to things and my immune system is becoming more messed up, now something else will be contaminating my food and harming me. I have always felt safe shopping at Whole Foods. I guess I won't be feeling that way anymore.

Anon says …

This has to go. Everyone who's knowledgeable about how this insane government truly works has to take action. We need to stop talking about things and actually begin to get things done. March 20th in Washington, we need to send a message to the industries that are influencing our government for the worse. They don't care about us, nor do they care about the millions they kill elsewhere. It's all money and control for them. This needs to end. Look up "March 20th Revolution" and do your part to take action. Stop talking and start acting people!

Risa Lavelle says …

Thank you for staying in the fight against the complete deregulation of GE Alfalfa. I think at the point those of us who want the choice of "clean non GMO food" need to stand together. Please let us consumers know what we can do now to help advocate for the organic farming industry -- large and small.

Bill Cohen says …

Since Whole Foods has so many customers around the country, why not enlist your customers to battle for you. 90% of them probably have no idea what gmo is, but if they were told what gmo is and found out that they had purchased it without knowing, they would be livid. If you really want to win the war, enlist the ones who need to know there is a war going on, urge them to fight with you by making their voice heard. The power is in the knowledge. I will be speaking with the store in my area as to what your specific strategy is to enlist the ignorant public in the fight!!!!!!

Dennis says …

When I read the OCA article, I felt betrayed by WF too and I also felt like boycotting them. After reading their response as well as the numerous letters of response published here on WF's own website, I realize that things are not as simple as I originally thought. Do I think WF is perfect? No. They have been using GM canola on their dried raisins for years and have been totally unresponsive to changing this. They have carried large bags of Domino White Sugar on their shelves for at least three years. How anti-whole is that? Nevertheless, I have been able to get many of the things I need there and appreciate their commitment to the larger community. They have also taken a big stand against GMOs in the past. More importantly, they posted all of these strong responses here in this comment section of their website for all of us to read. I saw letter after letter of strong, dedicated, intelligent, and well-informed people speaking against GMOs and the stance that WF has taken. I was truly amazed to see here that I was not as alone about this issue as I had previously thought. I was also amazed to see that WF published these for all of to see. What this could mean is that they are still showing their commitment to their principles and to us, their loyal customers)that they understand and care. If they make the changes suggested in this blog, including rescinding their position with the USDA, perhaps we could all unite together and win this disgusting war. We could even use WF as a forum to debate the strategies we could use as is happening here. I think we can turn this mistake around into something even greater by uniting all of our forces. This, I think can be done. Will WF actually do it? I hope so, but we shall have to wait to see.

docas tunkara says …

USDA is saying it is fair for GE Alfalfa can sit side by side on the shelves, however today people no longer sit side by side while smoking their cigarettes. To be fair to all, all do not have to be together in the contamination of the other.

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