On March 8th at Natural Products Expo West Whole Foods Market made the biggest GMO announcement of 2013 thus far. Whole Foods has decided that by 2018 ALL of their supplier must either be making their products with ingredients from non-GMO verified sources OR they must clearly label all their products as containing GMO ingredients. Considering the impact Prop 37, the initiative to label GMOs, had on the United States, this is huge news. Walter Robb and A.C. Gallo, Whole Foods Market President and Chief Operating Officer made the announcement with Robb stating, “We’re responding to our customers, who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: in our own stores.” Whole Foods Market said that they’re giving their suppliers five years to make these changes due to the complexity of the issue, but the organic retailer notes that they expect to see progress and some major changes sooner than that. Whole Foods also points out that many of their suppliers are already starting to switch to Non-GMO ingredients.
Below is information from the Whole Foods Market press release:
“We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer’s right to know. 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.
Whole Foods Market has been collaborating with many of its supplier partners for several years to source products without GMO ingredients. Whole Foods Market will now expand this effort, working with suppliers in all categories as they transition to ingredients from non-GMO sources, or clearly label products containing GMOs by the five-year deadline. Whole Foods Market will make announcements about progress and key milestones along the way.”
Many people and organizations have long complained that Whole Foods hasn’t done nearly as much as they could to forward the GMO labeling movement. Back in November 2012, Mark A. Kastel, Co-Director of The Cornucopia Institute said, “Had we seen the same level of enthusiasm for consumers’ right-to-know from Whole Foods as we saw against the right-to-know from Monsanto, the playing field would have been more level, and the misleading information spewed by giant corporate agribusinesses would quite possibly not have prevailed on election day. Meaningful participation from Whole Foods could have been a game changer.” This major decision to label GMOs is now indeed a game changer for Whole Foods and for consumers. Yesterday, Kastel changed his tune, calling the Whole Foods’ move “Fantastic.” This change is fantastic, not only because it sets a stellar example for the rest of the grocery industry, but because it shows Whole Foods’ commitment to consumer knowledge. Not only is Whole Foods labeling their organic body care but they’re also labeling their cleaners, and now GMO products as well. Great news for consumers everywhere!
All images courtesy of Whole Foods Market®