Today, Whole Foods made a pretty major announcement: They have implemented a GMO Labeling Policy for all of their vendors. This means that by the year 2018, every product sold in Whole Foods that contains GMOs will we required to be labeled as such.
This is amazing news.
Last year I had my eyes opened to the entire GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) issue when I watched the incredible documentary, Genetic Roulette. Not only did I learn more about the harms of GMOs, but also that the theory around labeling GMOs is this: It would be terribly difficult to pass legislation or policies to ban GMOs. However, if all you ask for is a label, the change will likely happen on it’s own. If a food is labeled that it has GMOs, how many people do you think will want to buy it? In fact, how many brands will want that label on their product? The companies will simply reformulate their recipes to utilize non-GMO ingredients. They’ve done it in other countries, why not here?
In November, the issue was on the ballot in California: Should we require labeling of GMOs? Despite a David and Goliath struggle, the ballot initiative only lost by a small margin. The ballot measure may have lost, but a movement of awareness on genetically modified organisms had only just begun.
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization that labels non-GMO foods. Hey, if we can’t label the bad stuff, let’s label the good stuff! Great idea. You may have seen the label popping up on more and more items at Whole Foods, who is in the process of getting all of their private label (365 brand) products verified under this project.
That in itself has been amazing progress. Then, today, came the announcement to require labeling of all products containing GMOs within 5 years. Incredible!
When I saw the announcement on Facebook, I immediately “liked” it and then decided to go ahead and comment…telling them “Thank You” for being a leader in the industry. As I read the comments, it showed that there is still a lot of confusion out there from the consumers.
Many people didn’t realize that WholeFoods currently sells products that do contain GMOs: commenter Julia wrote, “So basically I might as well not make the 30 min drive both ways to shop at whole foods for the next 5 years?”
Others want a ban on GMOs, not just a label, like Stacey, “Whole Foods should be boycotting all foods with GMOs immediately not labeling them in 5 years time.” I get it, I do. I can see her point, but I also think that by asking for labeling, it will solve itself. These things can seem simple from the outside, but making these company-wide changes take time to implement, both from Whole Foods and their suppliers.
And others don’t understand why the deadline is five years out, like Facebooker Kristina, “5 years? really? thanks but no thanks. either jump in with both feet Whole Foods or don’t jump at all.” To which Whole Foods has replied many, many times, “Fortunately, many of our suppliers are already well on their way to moving to Non-GMO ingredients & a good number are already there. Since this is a complicated issue, we wanted to give our supplier partners enough time to make this change.”
Others are applauding Whole Foods and their efforts, like myself. (But my comment didn’t post for some reason, so we’ll just count this article as my comment!) It’s a step in the right direction. It is a trendsetting move. It is an achievable goal and plan.
So, thank you, Whole Foods. You are doing the right thing. Is it perfect? Many will argue that it is not. But it is a great move, and better than any other grocery chain is doing right now…so I applaud you.
My final thought: Cheerios is sold at my Whole Foods. This is a mainstream product that likely contains GMOs. Will this force General Mills to label their cereal? Reformulate it? I can’t wait to see what happens!