Whole Foods has announced that by 2018, all products in U.S. and Canada stores must be labeled if they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This is the first national grocery store to set a deadline from GMO labeling.“We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer’s right to know,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, in a press release. “The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products. Accordingly, we are stepping up our support of certified organic agriculture, where GMOs are not allowed, and we are working together with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future.”
The company says it’s the first national grocery chain to set such a deadline for labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. A spokeswoman for Whole Foods said organic foods will not have to carry the labels since they do not contain GMOs by definition. Although Whole Foods is known as an organic grocer, it also sells a wide array of nonorganic products.
...currently sells more than 3,000 products that have gone through the non-GMO verification process
Whole Foods Market Inc. notes that it has been working with suppliers for years to source products that don’t have GMO ingredients. It says it currently sells more than 3,000 products that have gone through the non-GMO verification process, more than any other retailer in North America.
The use of GMOs has been a growing issue in recent years, with health advocates pushing for mandatory labeling. Last year, California voters shot down an initiative that would have required such labels. As various efforts continue for GMO labeling, Whole Foods said it would move ahead with its own plans.
In a statement, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which represents Monsanto, DuPont and other makers of genetically modified seeds, said that it supports the voluntary labeling for people who seek out such products. But since the FDA says there’s no difference between foods that have been improved with biotechnology and their organic counterparts, the group said mandatory labeling would only mislead or confuse consumers.
Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch, a consumer and environmental advocacy group, called the Whole Foods announcement a “smart move.” Her group and others have been pushing for a federal law requiring labeling on all genetically modified foods.
“We’re continuing to work to make this label mandatory because everyone deserves to have that label, not just Whole Foods shoppers,” Lovera said. “But I think it’s smart on their part to start giving consumers what they want, which is more information.”
So what do you think, is this too little too late? Understandably, a large business like Whole Foods requires time to make large changes but 2018 seems like an awful long time to us.