Whole Foods Market to Require GMO Labeling by 2018

Whole Foods Market Storefront

Last weekend, at the Natural Food Expo in Anaheim, California, the CEO of Whole Foods Market announced a new initiative. By 2018, all products sold at Whole Foods Market will need to be identified as GMO or Not.

GMO stands for genetically modified organism. Biotech companies developed plants that are supposed to better withstand pests and drought than traditionally cultivated plants. The safety of genetically manipulated plants is at the center of controversy in the United States. Almost all soy and corn grown in the US are GMO, and since corn and soy ingredients are prevalent in so many foods, this means all of us are exposed to GMOs, whether we like it or not. Organic food and food labeled as “Non GMO” are made from non manipulated crops.

For the last 20 years in Europe, foods containing GMO ingredients are required to show that information. At the same time in the US, agri-food lobbies managed to convince the FDA that labeling GMO foods would only “confuse” consumers.

But American consumers are now demanding GMO labeling here in the states. In November we came close in California, but ultimately failed after a massive ad campaign that scared people into believing GMO labeling would cause food prices to increase. But that failure has spawned new initiatives in dozens of states. Walmart has mentioned its interest in GMO labeling, and now we have the first firm commitment from Whole Foods Market.

This is another small step in the right direction of providing consumers with the information they deem important. Whether you are convinced that GMOs are perfectly safe or are the devil itself, surely we can all agree that letting a consumer decide based on proper labeling is the right way to go.

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  • Shari Lynn

    I’m disappointed. Given their reputation, I would’ve thought they would not have allowed GMOs from the start…. but, we have to start somewhere…

  • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

    Some of you have been asking on our Fooducate page why only 5 years from now. Our understanding is that it will take suppliers up to 5 years to reformulate and access non-GMO ingredients for products that they sell to Whole Foods.

    • http://www.facebook.com/KimberlyDoster Kimberly Doster

      Why the need to reformulate? WFM has only said that the products need to be IDENTIFIED as GMO or not, not that they won’t sell GMOs. Identification would only require packaging change, which doesn’t require 5 years-companies do it all the time for various reasons, from aesthetics, to recipe changes, to size changes. The 5 year wait seems odd.

  • Cactus_Wren

    http://www.alternet.org/food/whole-story-behind-whole-foods-big-announcement-thats-shaking-food-world

    “It is consumer pressure that has finally forced WFM’s hand. Last year, consumers hammered WFM when the company dragged its heels on supporting California’s Proposition 37, a Nov. 7 citizens’ ballot initiative that would have required labels on all GE foods.”

  • Buylocal

    I wish I had access to a WFM her win Ottawa :(

  • Dennis

    So, can anyone explain to me the difference between GMO foods and say, corn hybrids?

    • EVIL food scientist

      GMO foods have had “novel” genes inserted in the plant’s DNA that are not native to corn plants. Hybrids are made by deliberate selection of traits in corn you want to see exhibited in the next generation.

      Or as Fooducate would say “AAAAHHH!!!! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!! MONSANTO IS EVIL!!!

      • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

        Ouch, that hurt ;-)
        Even evil food scientists know we are all going to die, eventually