As one of the pioneers in the organic and natural food movement, Whole Foods has been lauded as a leader in some circles, and at the same time criticized because of more than a few controversial actions.
Many people for instance took issue with the company’s decision not to fight Monsanto harder on the issue of GMO alfalfa, which is capable of cross-contaminating non-GMO varieties.
Others thought the company’s plan to label GMOs by the year 2018, while admirable at the time, did not do enough to address the presence of many unlabeled products containing an admittedly small amount of GMO ingredients in its stores.
Now, the company has announced that it won’t meet one of its biggest GMO-related deadlines, and it has some wondering if its commitment to GMO transparency has been co-opted.
Whole Foods Announces it Will Wait for Federal Rule to Label Products
According to this article from the website NewFoodEconomy.org, Whole Foods has announced that it will not meet its September 1 deadline for labeling GMO products in its stores, in order to make sure it’s not creating any additional challenges for its suppliers, according to a letter obtained by the website.
But that raises the question as to whether Whole Foods is still fully committed to GMO transparency, the article says, especially considering that the pending new federal labels have been deemed misleading, exclusionary and cumbersome for consumers at best.
“We remain committed to providing our customers with the level of transparency they want and expect from us and will continue to require suppliers to obtain third-party verification for non-GMO claims,” the company said, in an emailed statement provided to the New Food Economy.
The proposed federal GMO labels will not use the words “genetically modified” or genetically engineered,” and will instead use the acronym BE for “bioengineered” — a term most consumers do not recognize, and include a smiley face under the words with flower petals surrounding them, making GMOs appear benevolent.
They also will use QR codes which are discriminatory to the millions of Americans who don’t use smartphones, which is just part of the reason these labeling plans have been dubbed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act.
Whole Foods labels, which have now been pushed back, were expected to be more transparent and easier for customers to understand.
“We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer’s right to know,” co-CEO Walter Robb said back in 2013, announcing the 2018 expected date.
But the new announcement has many wondering whether or not Whole Foods still has it in them to label GM foods, and how far the new labels will go — especially since the federal standard excludes certain types of GMOs including the new CRISPR process that could dramatically alter the natural states of our favorite foods.
And it could yet again undermine trust in a company that was once seen as a health food store but is now seen by many health conscious customers as not being too different from the rest.
For more information on the Whole Foods labeling situation, check out the full article by clicking here.