The YouTube video showing our store Team Members giving conflicting responses to a question about GMOs reminds us that while we try to keep all our 70,000 Team Members up-to-speed on the latest information, clearly we need to do more. Some products in our stores DO contain GMOs – just like any other food store in the country, due to the pervasiveness of GMOs – and we need to do a better job of making sure our Team Members understand this so they can provide customers with the facts.
I hope you don’t believe the claims that Whole Foods Market is coaching its Team Members to give false information to its customers, because it’s completely untrue. The idea goes directly against who we are as a company – for years, we’ve worked hard to provide as much information as possible about our products to our customers.
Here are some things about Whole Foods Market and GMOs that you didn’t see in the video – we have:
- Invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in putting our house brand products through third party non-GMO verification.
- Worked tirelessly over the years to support organic agriculture to provide the largest variety of organic products that are grown without GMOs seed per the USDA National Organic Standards.
- Worked one-on-one with hundreds of our supplier partners to encourage them to get their ingredients from Non-GMO sources.
- Supported mandatory product labeling measures over the years, most recently including California’s Proposition 37 and Washington state’s Initiative Measure 522, with the hope that the state efforts lead to one federal standard.
- Helped inform and educate our Team Members and shoppers about the complex issue of GMOs and their prevalence in the country’s food supply.
- Celebrated Non-GMO month every October with displays, signage, and this year a sale, in our stores.
- Worked hard to provide as many Non-GMO choices for customers as we can.
- Put close to 5,000 Non-GMO Verified items on our shelves and done more than any other retailer to support Non-GMO verification and prioritize Non-GMO grocery brands.
Our promise to customers is that we will be further educating our Team Members to give good, clear information about GMOs, so that they are providing facts to those customers who have questions. One way we’re ramping up that education is by putting up GMO information centers in our stores for customer and Team Member education. The first ones go up on October 1 in our California stores.
Whole Foods Market has publicly stated its support of California’s Proposition 37 (http://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/news/whole-foods-market-supports-californias-proposition-37). We are not offering a financial donation to the effort because we do not contribute to political campaigns or ballot initiatives as a company policy. Instead, we are supporting the effort by helping inform our Team Members and our customer base with “Vote Yes on Prop 37” signs and information booths in our stores. We’re also highlighting and promoting hundreds of Non-GMO products in our stores throughout October to highlight the availability of these products for our customers.
Ideally, we hope the passing of Proposition 37 will lead to one federal standard for labeling GMOs, similar to how the National Organic Standards were formed. One set of rules and uniform support of a consumer’s right to know would be in everyone’s best interests.
Update: We don’t contribute to political campaigns, ballot initiatives, etc. as a policy set by company leadership who recognize that Whole Foods Market represents the viewpoints of a wide variety of customers and other stakeholders. However, we have heard feedback from our customers about finding additional ways to support this important effort and we are currently evaluating what more we can do to help with getting CA Prop 37 passed. Stay tuned.