Whole Foods Takes Stand on GMO Labels

Whole Foods Market is putting a stake in the ground on GMOs.  

The first national supermarket chain to make this commitment,  all products with GMOs will be labeled by 2018, in both the US and Canada. 

This could be an important precedent that other supermarket chains would follow.

When Monsanto’s GMO sweet corn was approved last year, Whole Foods vowed not to sell it

Suppliers have five years to either source non-GMO ingredients or to clearly label products that have ingredients containing GMOs. Many suppliers are already working on this, they say, and a "a good number are already there."

While five years from now is the deadline, Whole Foods says it will see progress much sooner and will announce key milestones along the way.

"We heard our customers loud and clear asking us for GMO labeling and we are responding where we have control: in our own stores," says the company.

This is their reasoning:

"We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer’s right to know," says Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods. "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."

Currently, the only way to be sure food doesn’t contain GMOs is buy certified organic.

Whole Foods private label line, "365 Everyday Value" has been GMO-free for years, they say, and since 2009, it’s been verified through the Non-GMO Project, which analyzes food for the presence of GMOs. 

3,300 Non-GMO Project verified products from 250 brands are currently sold in Whole Foods, more than any other retailer in North America, says the company. You can find these products here.

Whole Foods was criticized for not actively supporting (kicking in money) the GMO labeling referendum in California this past November.  At the last minute, they formally announced support for Prop 37 and used radio ads and social media to get the word out.

Since the defeat of Prop 37, organizers in 30 states are now working on initiatives to require GMO labels. Whole Foods say it is more actively supporting these efforts.

Although we’re glad to see Whole Foods take a leadership position on GMOs, we wonder why it’s taken so long. We’re disappointed in Whole Foods’ evolution, moving further and further away from certified organic and carrying a greater proportion of so-called "natural" products. Most of their store-baked breads are not whole grain and two-thirds of their produce comes from "conventional" farms.

Learn about the Non-GMO Project:

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Comments on “Whole Foods Takes Stand on GMO Labels”

  1. Cynthia

    Thank you for doing the right thing, Whole Foods. It only takes one to start blazing the right way, and shoppers will remember this.

  2. Debi

    HOOOOORAY for Whole Foods!!!

    I will travel as far as I need to in order to shop there for this and many other good healthy reasons.

    SO disappointing to see how many “supposed” health food stores allow GMOs in products they sell and label themselves. So it lovely to know that WholeFoods is on the side of truly healthy food adn lives.

  3. peter

    Of the 7+ BILLION people on this beautiful planet, very few can afford the luxury of Organic food. GMO’s REALLY help supply nourishment for the bulk of our brothers and sisters. Sure it should be labeled, so I know to buy GMOs.

  4. Think about it

    Peter, I’m kind of thinking there is sarcasm in your comment, but since I can’t here that tone, just in case: of the 7+BILLION people on this beautiful planet, a large percentage have ONLY access to organic foods because they grow their own and eat what they pick. It’s only a “luxury” in the more, eh-hem, advanced countries, where people have regulation and factory farms and mass production. At least the poorest have that going for them….. Enjoy those GM0s, bro. 😉

  5. Mark

    I don’t consider health a luxury. I recently moved to the Southwest. One reason: to grow as much organic food as possible for my family. We’ve purchased organic food for years. We’ve given up cable TV, bought a smaller home: less taxes, in order to live a healthier lifestyle.


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