Whole Foods Breaks Promise to Label GMOs by 2018

June 1, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Whole Foods drops promised GMO labeling after suppliers complain

It’s been five years since Whole Foods Market announced it would require all products containing genetically modified organisms sold in its stores to be labeled as such by September 2018.

An email sent to suppliers this week indicates the natural grocery chain, which was recently acquired by Amazon, has no intention of following through on that promise.

Amid supplier complaints about the “confusion” of having to comply with both the USDA’s coming GMO labeling laws and Whole Foods’ more stringent requirements, the retailer said it would pause its plans indefinitely.

“As the USDA finalizes the federal regulation in the coming months and the food industry assesses the impact, we do not want our Policy to pose further challenges for you and your business,” Whole Foods President and Chief Operations Officer A.C. Gallo wrote in the email.

The Whole Foods labeling policy would’ve required suppliers to disclose the presence of GMOs directly on product packaging; while the USDA “labels” would only require manufacturers to include QR codes for customers to scan with their phones to obtain more info.
Whole Foods labeling system also would’ve had stricter rules for animal products raised on genetically modified grains than the USDA codes.
Worst of all, the USDA label will only require coding of “bioengineered” foods — those containing the spliced genes of another organism. Other types of genetic modification, including foods produced by gene-editing tools like CRISPR, would not need to be labeled.

“We remain committed to providing our customers with the level of transparency they want and expect from us,” the company told the New Food Economy, “and will continue to require suppliers to obtain third-party verification for non-GMO claims.”