Whole Foods Market announced today its plan to label products in its US and Canadian stores to indicate if they contain genetically modified organisms (GMO)s by 2018.
“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. “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 has been making an effort to source products from suppliers that do not include GMO ingredients since 2009. Currently the grocery chain sells 3,300 non-GMO verified products from 250 brands. The company hopes to transition away from products with GMO ingredients or label such products by its five year deadline.
“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,” said Robb.
The issue of GMO products has been a topic of national conversation in recent times with consumer advocacy groups encourage states adopt mandatory labelling laws. “Whole Foods Market supports that measure and looks forward to supporting other state efforts that may finally lead to one uniform set of national standards,” said Robb. “While we are encouraged by the many mandatory labeling initiatives, we are committed to moving forward with our own GMO transparency plan now.”
“We have always believed that quality and transparency are inseparable and that providing detailed information about the products we offer—such as 5-Step Animal Welfare ratings in meat, Eco Scale rated cleaning products in grocery, stringent wild and farm-raised standards in seafood, and now labeling GMOs throughout the store—is part of satisfying and delighting the millions of people who place their trust in Whole Foods Market each day,” said A.C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods Market. “This bold task will encourage manufacturers to ask deeper questions about ingredients, and it will help us provide greater transparency about the products we sell so our customers can be empowered to make informed decisions about the foods that are best for them.”